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Japanese Fashion Retailer Implements Twin Channel Sortation

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United Arrows, one of Japan’s leading fashion retail brands, reports improved efficiency at its Tokyo distribution hub following the introduction of a mobile robot-based sorting system.

Since the company opened its first store in 1989, United Arrows’ stylish range of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing has established a loyal following among Japan’s trend-conscious shoppers. Indeed, such has been the retailer’s success that it now has a portfolio of close to 300 outlets, while online sales are growing rapidly.

The Tokyo hub is one of two distribution centres that support United Arrows’ multi-channel operations in Japan. At each site replenishment stock is processed for next-day delivery to stores while online orders are also picked, packed and dispatched directly to those customers who prefer to shop via the company’s website.

To ensure that shoppers who visit one of United Arrows’ stores have the best chance of finding the items they are looking for in the right size, the company aims to deliver replenishment stock to every one of its retail sites before their doors open each morning and the first customers of the day arrive.

And, with today’s online customers demanding rapid delivery, internet orders are picked within a matter of hours after being placed to ensure the speediest fulfilment time.

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Meeting such demanding twin-channel order processing targets requires reliable intralogistics processes and technologies, and led to the company implementing the ‘T-Sort’ order sortation platform from LiBiao Robotics following an appraisal of the solutions currently on the market.

With ‘T-Sort’ LiBiao’s iconic ‘Mini Yellow’ autonomous mobile robots are guided by integrated control software as they travel on a raised operating platform constructed within the Tokyo distribution facility’s sorting zone.

Warehouse personnel previously had to scan each item individually and cross-check that the details and instructions corresponded with the information given on the waybill of every order. 

Now, an operative places an item on to a Mini Yellow robot at the induction station and RFID scanning software allocates the correct destination and directs the robot there using the shortest, safest route.

Our workers love the robots. Watching them go about their work is almost hypnotic …

Furthermore, should the number of orders processed at the Tokyo facility go up additional robots, as well as induction points and divert chutes, can be added as required.

United Arrows’ supply chain manager, Yohei Uno, says: “The robots handle our order sortation seamlessly and have turned what was a very hectic and labour intensive part of our operation into a calm and controlled task. Our workers love the robots. Watching them go about their work is almost hypnotic and I even heard one colleague refer to the ‘Mini Yellows’ as ‘cute!’”

LiBiao’s range of autonomous sortation robots will be on display at Intralogistex (Birmingham, UK, March 19-20) and Logimat (Stuttgart, Germany, March 19-21).

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Staff Reporter

FMIndustry.com covers the latest news, trends and opinion from the facilities management (FM) and corporate real estate (CRE) sectors. The FM market is currently estimated to be worth USD 1 trillion annually and is projected to grow at a compounded annualised rate of approximately 5% between now and 2026.

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  • Staff Reporter

    FMIndustry.com covers the latest news, trends and opinion from the facilities management (FM) and corporate real estate (CRE) sectors. The FM market is currently estimated to be worth USD 1 trillion annually and is projected to grow at a compounded annualised rate of approximately 5% between now and 2026.

    View all Articles

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