A 'Fulfilling' Distribution Center Mobile Robotic Solution

One company invested in a mobile robotic solution to automate all wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer fulfillment activities in its new European distribution center.

Timberland is a global leader in the design, engineering and marketing of premium-quality footwear, apparel, and accessories for consumers. The company recently decided to implement a system to automate all wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer fulfillment activities in its new European dstribution center, which is under construction in Almelo, the Netherlands.

“Our previous warehouse was built around a crossbelt sorter, but increased flexibility was required to manage multiple workflows efficiently,” said David Rupert, senior manager of engineering at Timberland. “On any given day, we have vast order combinations of footwear, apparel and accessories headed out the door to wholesalers, retailers or directly to the consumer.

Timberland turned to Kiva Systems, a developer of mobile robotic solutions that automate order fulfillment and distribution operations. With Kiva, customer specific packing requirements can move quickly and easily through a single system with greater inventory control and productivity reporting. Kiva uses hundreds of robotic drive units that bring inventory on mobile shelves directly to workers, allowing easy and efficient access to all inventory items at all times. Unlike traditional conveyor, carousel, and AS/RS machines, the Kiva solution can handle products of all shapes and sizes, and automatically brings products to operators eliminating wasteful time spent walking the warehouse floor.

Kiva is a complete automation solution that encompasses inventory control, forward replenishment, picking, packing, shipping, sortation, finishing and quality assurance to simultaneously improve warehouse productivity, speed, accuracy and flexibility.

“At Timberland we treat each order, whether it is pallets of cargo pants or a single pair of our classic boat shoes, as if it’s going directly into our customer’s hands, said Mark van Onna, director of European Distribution Center at Timberland. “Kiva’s unparalleled order accuracy means that every order filled meets our highest standard.”

The Kiva solution goes beyond traditional warehouse automation, and is designed to deliver performance for Timberland by:

• Increasing productivity significantly from previous automation

• Improving order accuracy, ensuring that inventory and orders are 99.99% accurate

• Eliminating all order batching and waving, enabling real-time order fulfillment

• Allowing Timberland the pay-as-it-grows flexibility to handle today’s volumes with the ability to easily add capacity quickly as needed over time.

“Timberland is a leading-edge brand, innovating in everything from apparel product design to environmentally friendly sourcing strategies, and now multi-channel fulfillment automation,” said Mick Mountz, CEO and founder of Kiva Systems. “We are delighted to be working alongside the Timberland team, as they ‘step up’ to a new level of performance.”