Case Study


Warehouse automation a boon to Japan’s Hayabusa

Okamura Corporation

Japanese producer of fishing rigs, Hayabusa, houses the most extensive AutoStore™ system in Japan. The automation system has helped to solve storage problems and triple the warehouse’s picking speed.

Picking Speed
Storage Capacity
Sales increase

Hayabusa, a Japanese manufacturer of fishing equipment, was founded in 1959 by Hayato Tiri, the father of the current company president, Yumi Shida.

The company produces fishing hooks, rigs, lures, weights, and general fishing gear and is best known for its Sabiki fishing rig. Employees make this highly effective rig, used for catching sardines and mackerel, by hand — a delicate, intricate task.

Hayabusa employs roughly 1,000 people and has factories in China, Vietnam, and Myanmar. 

Currently, the Hayabusa headquarters houses Japan’s most extensive AutoStore system. Read on to find out why this warehouse automation system made the most sense for the progressive manufacturer.

Why Hayabusa considered the AutoStore system

There were several reasons why a state-of-the-art warehouse automation system was an obvious choice for Hayabusa. Their inventory is large, the company was experiencing a shipping bottleneck, and they needed a custom-made picking platform to fulfill particular needs.

“The company has over 20,000 registered items in stock, and we ship about 900 orders per day,” says Tetsuya Shida, Managing Director of Hayabusa Fishing Hooks. “We have about 5,000 products that sell particularly well.”

In the past, the company had to deal with shipping bottlenecks, which impacted getting shipments out to customers. The bottlenecks became particularly problematic when it came to seasonal variations in the orders. For example, Hayabusa needed to ship up to 3,000 orders on some days, and was falling behind.

“We needed an automated system that could deal with our very high storage and retrieval needs while taking up less space than the previous system. We also needed two picking platforms of varying heights to make our picking targets. AutoStore could give us that,” Shida recalls. 

Three to four people worked on every order in the past, and the system, which involved retrieving goods from more than one warehouse, was laborious. The items were picked separately, combined at a later stage, inspected, and finally packed and shipped.

Realizing that this system wasn’t efficient, the Hayabusa team started looking at their options. “In June 2018, we first considered upgrading our automated warehouse. One year later, with the help of the Okamura Corporation, we decided to install the AutoStore system.”


How AutoStore works at Hayabusa

Hayabusa’s AutoStore system is currently the largest one in Japan.

There are 76 Robots at the main warehouse, which also accommodates 22,933 Bins, and the grid covers roughly 20,000 square feet (1,860 square meters). There are 11 Ports for storage and retrieval.

“As Hayabusa’s required storage and retrieval capacity is very high, we expanded the area of the AutoStore grid by making the picking platform four Bins high in certain areas and 14 Bins high in others,” Shida notes. “This sorts out the problem of the retrieval time for products at the very bottom.”

A customized layout makes it possible for four levels of Bins to be stored above the employees’ heads. These four levels contain 60% of the most frequently ordered products so that the Robots don’t have to dig deeper than necessary to retrieve the products.

The previous automated warehouse had stairs from the first floor to the second floor, which took up a lot of space. It also meant that there wasn’t enough room for all products to be stored. As a result, the company resorted to operating from within a flat warehouse, which added to costs and significantly slowed down picking speed.

With the implementation of AutoStore, the company can now accommodate everything on one floor.

The advantages of AutoStore

Hayabusa has reaped several benefits from installing the AutoStore system:

  • Their sales have increased by 165%
  • The new system’s picking speed is three times faster than that of the previous system
  • They’ve doubled their warehouse’s storage capacity 
  • The increased storage capacity has meant that Hayabusa no longer has to rent extra warehouse storage space, which saves costs
  • The company now enjoys reduced shipping lead times
  • As a result of saving space, the second floor of the warehouse is no longer used for storage; it’s now a large office space
  • The increased working space has allowed for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Initially, the team was unsure whether any particular system could solve their storage problems and concerns around slow picking speed. “But the layout of the AutoStore system is flexible and we defined exactly what it was that we wanted,” Shida concludes. “The system could give it to us, and worked without any problems when we went live.”

“The overwhelming storage capacity of AutoStore meant that we could reduce the number of warehouses we were renting, which saved us a lot of money.”

Takehiko Nomura
Business Development Manager

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