A demonstration of a solution to SKU proliferation.

IAM Robotics and TREW are collaborating to bring traditional conveyance technology to mobile robotics to address their customers most pressing challenges, including labor and SKU proliferation.

A natural part of the maturation process for a retailer and distributor, SKU proliferation can be stressful. Warehouse managers typically adhere to the 80/20 Rule, which says that 20% of inventory SKUs count for 80% of sales, while the other 80% of SKUs are slow-moving products. The process of increasing the number of products or SKUs that it offers to customers occurs once a business learns more about the wants and needs of its customers, and begins to tailor its offerings to accommodate. In the current market, consumers are demanding a wider variety of products, with faster delivery times, further driving SKU proliferation.  

While adding inventory can bring in more customers and increase sales volume, it must be managed to ensure that value is added without negatively impacting business operations. Among the costs inherent in adding inventory is the decreased output that occurs as the job of picking orders becomes more complex and time consuming. This leads to an increase in labor costs—as well as the increased difficulty of finding enough available labor—and overall operating costs. A large number of SKUs makes it difficult to pick orders effectively and efficiently, and increases the likelihood of mistakes.

The IAM Robotics and TREW collaboration directly addresses these challenges by providing an autonomous mobile robotics solution that can handle these complex picking tasks. IAM Robotics’ Swift robot is designed for e-commerce fulfillment of packaged consumer goods and is available with an integrated MDR (motorized drive roller) for automatic tote transfer. The adjustable carriage can match the height of a facility’s existing conveyor infrastructure for simpler integration. This addition of conveyance to mobile robotics creates the ability to offer a flexible AS/AR system that can flex with demand and allow human labor to be reallocated to higher-level tasks.

Additionally, IAM Robotics’ new transport robot, named Bolt, further improves the throughput and ROI of the Swift Product Suite by exchanging totes with the Swift robot, then delivering the full tote to the next process in the fulfillment cycle, such as packing and shipping. By leveraging Bolt for transport, Swift remains focused on picking.

Watch the video to hear how Chris Arnold, President and COO of TREW and Joel Reed, CEO of IAM Robotics, see their collaboration as a way to turn the worldwide labor crisis and SKU proliferation into a competitive advantage. Click here to learn more about the TREW solutions.