SCEA 2021 Winner – ‘Best use of Robotics’: GreyOrange with IKEA

At the Supply Chain Excellence Awards in London on Monday 8th November, GreyOrange and IKEA walked off clutching the award for ‘Best Use of Robotics’.

The award was announced by special guest host Shaun Williamson (‘Barry from Eastenders’) and was presented by Katie Searles, Senior Reporter on Robotics & Innovation magazine, sponsor of the accolade, and was gladly received by delegates from IKEA and GreyOrange in front of a packed gala ballroom with more than 500 supply chain experts in attendance.

This was the first time the Awards had taken place in-person since 2019, following 2020’s Covid-enforced virtual event. And there was certainly a very special atmosphere at the Hilton on Park Lane.

So what made the entry stand out? Wherever IKEA customers shop – online or in-store – they want to receive items as quickly and conveniently as possible. However, there are challenges to rapid fulfilment, including the demands on IKEA co-workers and the environment. The Swedish giant therefore sought a way to solve these challenges while continuing to deliver superior shopping experiences for customers by getting orders out in a fast, accurate, affordable and sustainable way.

The GreyMatter Fulfilment Operating System is always solving to make the most efficient fulfilment decisions for customer orders thanks to a feedback loop between the Ranger robot and GreyMatter software technologies, which are built and designed together for advanced performance in real-time decision-making.To achieve this, IKEA turned to AI and machine learning automation specialist GreyOrange to optimise fulfilment and transform operations specifically at its Kuopio, Finland, store. GreyMatter software analyses incoming customer orders and orchestrates Ranger robots to brings inventory to IKEA co-workers who are picking orders.

In addition to providing inspiration and offering a great experience for cash and carry customers, an IKEA store with fulfilment capabilities enabled through smart robots can efficiently fulfil customer orders as an integrated part of a multichannel network.

Specialists within IKEA are constantly striving for improvements in all areas of the business and within its supply chain are exploring and finding the right level of automation to incorporate into its operations. With more than 440 stores and 80 warehouses globally, further opportunities for improvement are plentiful.

“The IKEA and Grey Orange entry presented an innovative solution to provide fulfilment capability within existing IKEA retail stores using GreyOrange robotic and AI technology,” the Supply Chain Excellence Awards judging panel decided.

“GreyOrange offered an all-in-one solution to pick across several levels of mezzanine floor with ranger robots picking items and pallets from the inventory and delivering them to IKEA co-workers on ground-floor level.

“Clear benefits were demonstrated to IKEA, its workforce and its customers including increased sales and profitability, improvements in space efficiency, sweating an existing asset, better working conditions and workforce diversity, accuracy in picking and speed of fulfilment and delivery.”

What the winner said… In today’s age of immediacy, the buyer is at the wheel. IKEA planned ahead to exceed rising consumer expectations for choice and speed, continuing its leadership in the furniture, décor and home accessories space. That’s why it partnered with GreyOrange to accelerate overall click-to-door and click-to-store time and the satisfaction it delivers – a challenge that can only be met with modern technology of AI robots and software working with people.

What our judges said… The Kuopio store was experiencing fewer footfall customers due to Covid and the growth in e-commerce – the option was either to close the store or change the store. The branch in Finland was on a negative trend for ROI but after implementing the GreyOrange system recently moved into the black. Interestingly, the better ergonomics and working conditions for store associates in order fulfilment resulted in an increase in workforce diversity – more women!

For sponsorship opportunities for the 2022 Supply Chain Excellence Awards, please click here

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