Footwear retailer Ariat and Decathlon, the largest sporting goods retailer in the world, will each deploy the Skypod robotics system from Exotec.
Ariat’s system will be installed by systems integration specialist Advanced Handling Systems (AHS), which has previously worked with Exotec on the installment of the system by Gap.
“Ariat is excited to partner with AHS and Exotec in our journey to bring unparalleled service to our customers,” said Matthew Hardenberg, senior director of distribution at Ariat International. “When selecting AHS as the integrator and the Exotec Skypod solution, we saw the same dedication to innovation and quality of our products in their solution.”
Ariat will add an unspecified number of robots in its Erlanger, Kentucky, omnichannel fulfillment center.
The Skypod is a “goods-to-person” 3D robot featuring the ability to move horizontally as well as up and down on shelving racks stacked as high as 36 feet. The system uses laser scanner navigation and artificial intelligence to navigate in a multidirectional manner, carrying 66-pound bins and freeing up time for the warehouse workers to focus on packing and shipping, avoiding long-distance walks to access inventory.
Rudi Lueg, managing director of North America for Exotec, previously told Modern Shipper a Skypod robot can speed the picking process about fivefold, but when it comes to returns, that speed quickens to as much as 10 times faster. Exotec’s solution also tracks the item through the process so if an online order comes in for the item and it hasn’t been returned to stock yet, the picker is notified an item is waiting to be returned to stock so a sale is not lost.
Decathlon will deploy 55 Skypods across 30 locations, including its primary fulfillment center in Montreal, Canada. The installation will be complete by December in time to help Decathlon handle the holiday rush and post-holiday returns. The robots are expected to handle 8 million items per year.
“We work with Exotec in a number of other regions and we expect this deployment to have a real transformational effect on our operations,” Richard Tremblay, logistics leader for Decathlon Canada, said in a release. “Speed and excellence in logistics are two critical elements to deliver great service to our internal and external customers. We are committed to a long-term partnership with Exotec with a progressive increase in the number of robots, in keeping with the overall growth of our business.”
In September 2020, Exotec announced a $90 million fundraising round led by 83North with participation from Dell Technologies Capital and existing investors Iris Capital and Breega. The company has approximately 250 global employees with most of its robotics solutions in use in Europe and Japan.