Radial Europe is a leading omnichannel retailer with more than 35 e-commerce fulfillment centers in Europe and North America. It faced a significant challenge at its logistics center in Groningen, a city in the northern Netherlands.
With an expansive facility spanning 26,000 square meters (279,000 square feet), the company needed to optimize warehouse processes to accommodate the handling of several million parcels annually. Traditional conveyor belts and pallet systems were proving insufficient for the scale of operations, demanding a more efficient and innovative solution.
Through a comprehensive data analysis of the workflow in the facility, integrator Dematic, which is part of the KION Group, the decision was made to implement a goods-to-person (G2P) system with 299 automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from Quicktron. These AGVs integrate with human employees, operating across 45 pick and pack stations and 10 transfer stations.
“We used to supply customers with [AGV] systems that were designed exclusively for pallet transport,” said Francis De Backer, managing director, Dematic. “But this time it’s about introducing a goods-to-person system based on [AGV] – on an unprecedented scale.”
The deployment leverages Dematic’s orchestration software. The AGVs perform key tasks, including transporting pallets, moving to transfer stations, and facilitating the transportation of containers between the rack storage area and picking stations. Safety measures like sensors and cameras were incorporated to detect obstacles and ensure a harmonious collaboration between human employees and AGVs.
“The [AGVs] perform three main tasks in the complex structure,” explains De Backer. “First, they transport the pallets from the entrance to the arrival zone of the warehouse. Then they move to the transfer stations and the order pickers.”
The system efficiently processed e-commerce orders in the textile sector thanks to Dematic’s sophisticated software. The integration of AGVs not only increased efficiency, but it also provided cost-efficiency and ease of implementation compared to traditional conveyor systems.
Kevin Heath, director of global robotics at Dematic, adds: “For this important order, we are relying on safety practices that have been specially developed for this innovative technology.”
The approach proved to be the way forward. According to De Backer, “this hybrid solution offers the best of both worlds, allowing for higher throughput volume while maintaining the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of AGVs.”
“The solution increases efficiency, which leads to improved services and lower costs for our customers,” Dries De Love, executive vice president at Radial Europe. “In addition, we see ergonomic improvements and safety benefits for our employees. This leads to a higher overall performance.”
“This not only caters to our immediate warehousing needs but also paves the way for future expansions to better serve our valued customer for years to come,” said Hans Vansweevelt, COO, Radial. “We are very proud to work with Quicktron on this new site which is setting new standards in the industry.”