Automating a warehouse doesn't necessarily mean cutting jobs. At Denmark's online retailer, Proshop, AutoStore's solution not only bolstered efficiency but also generated 15 new job opportunities. This equipped them to handle the surge in consumer demand during the crucial peak season.
Proshop's logistics center in Højbjerg, Denmark, exemplifies how automation can coexist with job retention and profitability. Transitioning from a physical store to a purely online platform in 2005, Proshop has a history of embracing innovations. Such adaptability has enabled them to offer over 200,000 products across eight European nations.
“If we had not introduced robot technology at Proshop, we might have gone from 140 employees to maybe 0. That is great, and we are very proud of our robotic warehouse,” says Ivan Jæger Christiansen, CEO of Proshop.
Like many other retailers, peak season for Proshop falls around the end-of-year holidays. And while that has meant increased orders and revenue year-on-year, a particularly intense period in 2017 convinced company leadership that a new approach would be needed to keep them competitive without losing customers or exhausting their workforce.
Seeking to take advantage of the Black Friday and Christmas sales periods in 2017, Proshop experienced such intense demand that they struggled to fulfill orders using traditional logistics methods. Aside from increasing pressure on employees and the risk of errors and missed orders, the prospect of facing a similar holiday season unprepared posed a risk for the company’s ability to stay competitive during a high-profit sales period.
After assessing their performance and needs based on the 2017 period, Proshop determined that the most effective way to maintain profitability and efficiency, and to support their existing workforce, was an automated warehouse system. Research into available solutions revealed that the AutoStore system, known for space efficiency, error reduction, and almost limitless customizability, was the clear choice.
Upon completion of Proshop’s new automated warehouse solution, the company immediately saw an improvement across the board, from sales to warehouse efficiency. The AutoStore system is built around a Grid of aluminum rails, vertical stacks of Bins beneath them, and one of three models of Robots, which travel along the rails to sort and retrieve requested items for packing, storage, or inventorying.
Because it can be packed into a much smaller physical footprint than traditional pallet- or shelving-based warehousing models, the AutoStore system is an ideal space- and cost-saving solution for companies that don’t intend to move to larger, more expensive logistics premises. In Proshop’s 3,000 m2 (32,300 ft2) warehouse, the AutoStore system takes up only 1,000 m2 (10,800 ft2) of floorspace.
Perhaps more importantly, the AutoStore solution has significantly streamlined Proshop’s logistics, enabling employees to work more efficiently without burnout, and without impacting profitability. “We have to be prepared for the Christmas season without having to work faster [or] work longer,” explains Proshop Warehousing and Logistics Manager Ronnie Stormfeldt.
By Christmas 2019, that preparation had paid off, increasing Proshop’s top line by 30 percent. The system will be able to handle 30,000 orders per day — ten times their original capacity pre-AutoStore.
Furthermore, the new automated system has proven so successful that Proshop has not only maintained their existing workforce, but expanded it, hiring 15 new employees since implementing the AutoStore solution. “If we had not introduced robot technology at Proshop, we might have gone from 140 employees to maybe 0. That is great, and we are very proud of our robotic warehouse,” says Christiansen.
The AutoStore system consists of a Grid capable of storing and processing thousands of Bins using multiple intelligent, battery-powered R5, R5+, or B1 Robots to retrieve inventory Bins from the Grid. From the Grid, Bins are passed onto a conveyor system for delivery to any of several workstations or Ports for order fulfillment, picking, replenishment, inventory control, and other purposes.
Grids can be customized to fit facilities of any size and shape using 17 standardized, interchangeable components. Between its space-saving potential and its superior efficiency, the AutoStore system can increase storage capacity by up to 4 times and performance by 10 times compared to conventional logistical models.
The system installed at the upgraded Højbjerg facility, after upgrades and expansions, now consists of a fleet of 70 Robots and 100,000 Bins. The AutoStore system has made it possible for Proshop to handle substantially higher order volumes, making it an indispensable asset for the company in future peak demand periods.
Installation type: Brownfield (existing site)
Robots: 70 Robots (with space for up to 300 robots)
Partner: Element Logic
“Price competition is extremely fierce in the electronics market. You simply make a few Danish kroner per iPhone or laptop. So if we are not efficient enough, we can’t sell the product cheap enough, and if you can’t sell it cheap enough, you will not sell it at all.”
"We expect to handle up to 30.000 orders in one day, which is 10 times as much as usual. Without these robots, our logistics would collapse"
After upgrading its warehouse system in 2022, Swedish clothing retailer Boozt maintains the largest AutoStore globally with over 1,000 Robots and 1 million Bins!
The installation of an AutoStore in sports retailer Decathlon's Calgary store offers customers a new retail experience and three-minute in-store order fulfillment.
AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.