Geekplus helps Japanese companies automate warehouse operations

Posted by Geekplus on Jun 7, 2024 12:25:37 PM

Like much of the world, Japanese companies are turning to warehouse automation to address labor shortages in the market. With companies feeling intense delivery pressure from the ever-increasing rise of e-commerce, Japanese warehouse operators are keeping an eye on how order fulfillment robots can help them fulfill orders faster and improve delivery times.

“As the e-commerce market is becoming competitive, delivery speed and capacity is an important KPI to attract consumers,” said Hirokazu Kato, president and CEO of Geekplus Japan, which was established in 2017. “Automation enables our customers to shift their fulfillment capabilities to the next level.”

Solving the labor shortage became a more immediate challenge this spring when the Japanese government implemented changes to the Labor Standards Act that effectively put a cap on working hours. 

“The government is restricting logistics workers to have shorter working hours to protect their health,” Kato said, adding that this is worsening the labor shortage. “To keep up with the growth of e-commerce … they need to hire people. But obviously they can’t hire people enough to support the business acceleration.

In 2018, the Japanese sporting goods retailer Alpen first began using 56 flagship Geekplusaskul_poppick_3 Goods-to-Person robots in its Eastern Japan e-commerce center. Earlier this year, the company started implementing the Geekplus Shelf-to-Person PopPick solution at its new 33,000-square-foot e-commerce warehouse in Western Japan.

"Due to ecommerce demand, we have launched strategic fulfillment centers in eastern and western Japan, aiming to establish a network capable of fast and efficient supply to the market," Ryuichi Hamanaka, Alpen's head of logistics, said at the time of the announcement. "We see Geekplus as a true partner in the evolution of our warehouse automation.”

The PopPick System consists of Shelf-to-Person robots that transport movable shelves from storage locations to PopPick workstations, where intelligent robotic arms present totes or boxes to the operator.

askul2-1Geekplus also recently implemented the largest PopPick installation in Japan at the Kansai ASKUL Value Center and will span more than 318 order fulfillment robots when fully implemented. ASKUL began its Geekplus association in 2019, leveraging the standard Shelf-to-Person order fulfillment robots across multiple distribution centers to streamline warehouse operations and boost efficiency. The solution also enhances the ASKUL customer experience through a more efficient and effective logistics system.


In Japan, Geekplus is seeing the most growth in Tokyo and Osaka, where Hiro says companies are looking to invest in warehouse automation to differentiate themselves against competitors. Even so, there are few early adopters, and customers in Japan prefer to see the solutions in a live, real-world environment before making an investment in order fulfillment robots.

“We definitely need to educate the customers,” he said, adding that the company built its own demo center expressly for that purpose. “Seeing is much better than lots of presentations.”

While most of its customers in Japan work directly with Geekplus, there is an appetite to generate additional business through partnerships. Geekplus has partners throughout the world helping bring warehouse automation to new clients.

“In Japan, we are starting to share our experience and knowledge with our partners so they can build a good relationship with their customers,” he said. “We are not just selling hardware; the partner must understand how to build solutions.”

Geekplus is a one-stop shop for order fulfillment automation, enabling a range of reliable and innovative mobile robotics solutions fit to evolving order fulfillment needs. Schedule a conversation to learn more about the suite of Geekplus order fulfillment solutions, spanning Shelf-to-Person, Tote-to-Person and Pallet-to-Person robots. 

Topics: Japan, warehouse automation, 2024