U-Freight expands robot fleet in its Hong Kong eCommerce fulfilment centre

Singapore freight forwarders – Star Concord

Work has been completed to expand the autonomous mobile robot (AMR) and intelligent racking system that was installed two years ago in one of the five freight hubs operated by U-Freight Logistics in Hong Kong.

12,000 sq ft of the company’s 20,000 sq ft e-commerce fulfilment centre (EFC) in Kwai Chung has been equipped with an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) and intelligent racking system, and associated operating software, provided by leading supplier Geek+.U-Freight is using a shelf-to-person solution powered by Geek+ and had taken several months to complete the upgrade, whilst maintaining the normal operational functionality of the EFC.30 of Geek+’s P-series AMR picking robots have been added in the EFC automated warehouse to meet the ever-growing needs for e-commerce order fulfilment. They will be used to move inventory shelves and pallets to the workstations that have also been upgraded. This eliminates the need for operators to leave their stations, improving putaway and picking accuracy, and reducing labour intensity.In addition, by expanding the robotics area in the warehouse, the system is expected to maximize the throughput capacity, enhancing operational efficiency, while reducing the operational costs.Empowered by Geek+ proprietary smart algorithms, the robotic retrieval system uses the fewest AMR picking robots possible to achieve maximum efficiency while improving warehouse storage capabilities.The system’s main functions deliver combined order optimization and picking; with dynamic wave selection processes, as well as inventory management and smart tallying of goods.They also permit efficient adjustment of inventory layout; enable workstation and robot tasks to be outlined; and deliver heat analysis and recommendations on where inventory should be stored.Combining smart algorithms in each robot with the facility’s warehouse management system, enables product to be stored and located based on the frequency of purchase.Fast-selling goods can be stored where the robot can most easily pick them, with less commonly ordered items stored elsewhere.The U-Freight Group was an early entrant into the world of e-commerce logistics, and over the last few years several of the company’s warehouse facilities across Asia, North America, and Europe have been equipped to enable them to act as EFCs.“The deployment of autonomous mobile robots in warehouses around the globe has been transforming the future of the e-commerce sector and its ability to meet rising business and consumer demand,” says Simon Wong, the chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based international freight forwarding and logistics group.“The latest development is part of U-Freight’s ongoing investment to meet the ever-increasing challenges of providing logistics services to this rapidly expanding sector of global trade.“In our EFCs, picking operations account for an increasing proportion of costs, accounting for more than 50% of warehouse operation costs.“Traditional warehouses mostly adopt the “person-to-goods” selection mode, which can mean high labour cost and low selection efficiency.“By upgrading our existing autonomous mobile robot (AMR) and intelligent racking system, we will be adopting the latest technology in ‘shelf-to-person’ picking, and believe this will improve production efficiency.”In addition to hardware investment, the U-Freight Group is now a logistics partner of choice for the growing number of online channels and platforms, which entrepreneurs are using to sell their own designs and products.Wong concludes: “The upgrade and expansion of our Hong Kong EFC is just the latest initiative helping us boost efficiency and capture more value, in order to capitalise on the opportunities that are being presented by the ongoing surge in e-commerce volumes.”

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Author: Edward Hardy