Homegrown e-commerce giant, Flipkart has introduced the country’s first robot-based sortation technology, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) at its Soukya sortation center in Bangalore.
Flipkart has designed this to optimize efficiency and precision on the back-end of the supply chain, as the AGVs have the capability to help Flipkart meet its growing customer and scale demands, ensuring faster delivery and an enhanced experience for online shoppers. With this deployment, Flipkart aims to achieve a 60% increase in process efficiency.
Flipkart says that this India-first initiative would further cement its position as the front-runner in bringing and developing futuristic, best-in-class technology in India.
The Soukya set-up involves 100+ self-guided bots that automatically sort packages to the right customer pin codes by identifying encoded information on each package. It will enable better throughput from an existing facility, removing the need for space expansion, and will enable the current manpower allocated to the task to be upskilled to do higher value-adding work — all at a similar or lower cost.
The Soukya facility has around 1000 employees at present and processes lakhs of shipments a day. The AGVs will work in conjunction with facility staff, who will be trained in operating them. The setup can process up to 4,500 shipments in an hour and can be scaled over 5x with minimal changes. The other advantage is that they can be easily moved across locations as well.
Sharing his views on the launch of the AGVs, Krishna Raghavan, Senior Vice President of eKart Tech at Flipkart said, “With the Automated Guided Vehicles, we are re-imagining new growth paths, while orchestrating new and innovative ways of working. We believe this will help bring efficiencies, agility, and scale to the supply chain operations, helping us serve the customer better. This India-first initiative is the first stepping stone in this journey. Going forward, we will be looking at how we can help build the country’s nascent automation ecosystem through R&D and collaboration so we can continue building India-specific solutions.”
Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Robotics & Automation
As Flipkart believes that it is committed to helping Indians better adopt the latest technologies, the use of AGVs will enable Flipkart to upskill unskilled labor and future automation will create space for Indian engineers to leverage their expertise in this arena.
As the automation and robotics ecosystem in India is currently in a nascent stage, Flipkart plans to partner with startups and university campuses to drive innovation and research in this space. The company will be building a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Robotics & Automation, focusing engineering, product, and automation teams under one umbrella. Some future mandates for the CoE will be further automation, IoT, electric vehicles etc. This would help continue building India-specific solutions, hiring talent, and incorporating affordable automation into the business model.