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Mobile robots for materials handling is already a crowded space. Now another company is set to enter the U.S. market. Scallog, a French developer of goods-to-person robots, signed an integration agreement with Bastian Solutions, a well-known materials handling expert owned by Toyota Industries.
Founded in 2013, Scallog’s Boby automated guided vehicles (AGVs) pick up and carry shelving units from a storage area to a series of workstations. At the workstation, a computer tells the human operator which orders are being picked, while the spot-to-pick system illuminates the picking location on the shelf. The operator picks the item and places it in the bin designated by the put-to-light system on the order buffer rack.
Boby appears to be similar to AGVs from Amazon Robotics (Kiva) and others. They navigate using optical sensors that follow guidance strips on the floor. Changing the navigation path requires removing the strips and re-adhering them to a new spot. Scallog claims its system makes pickers three times more productive and has an ROI of under two years.
The AGVs have a payload capacity of 600 kg (1,322 lbs), maximum speed of 5 feet per second, and a battery life of 14 hours, according to Scallog. In the U.S., the robots will target a variety of industries and will look to help 3PL, e-commerce, distribution and manufacturing companies improve their warehouse productivity. The companies said they anticipate the first U.S. installations to come in the first half of 2021.
“This collaboration illustrates a change in scale in our strategy of international expansion, in line with our ambitions for deployment and commercial presence in key markets,” said Olivier Rochet, CEO of Scallog. “The United States represents a new Eldorado for logistics robotics, where our value proposition for the automation of order picking has everything required to meet the growing demand for efficiency, agility and resilience in American warehouses.”
Scallog also has a product called Flexytote that automates tote transfer operations. Essentially, a Boby AGV lifts and moves empty totes or boxes to the order buffer racks for picking. A human operator completes the orders, then when the totes are full, the robot transfer them to the packing area.
Bastian has a large portfolio of automation systems for materials handling needs. It includes AS/RS systems from AutoStore, Kardex, OPEX, Servus Intralogistics and Vanderlande, as well as a variety of mini-load AS/RS systems, AGVs and autonomous mobile robots.
In the announcement of this partnership, the companies noted that, according to DHL, only 5% of warehouses are fully automated and 15% are semi-automated. Bastian employs 1,000 people in 20 national offices and its subsidiaries in Canada, Brazil, Mexico and India.
“We must continuously add technologies that address the growing demand and changing landscape order fulfillment providers face,” said Marvin Logan, VP of consulting and integration at Bastian Solutions. “Scallog’s technology will help us continue providing our customers with the competitive advantage they need to stay ahead in today’s market. We’re looking forward to introducing Scallog to our global network of clients.”
Scallog’s story is reminiscent of what Geek+ did a few years ago. Founded in 2015, Geek+ first demonstrated its logistics robots in the U.S. at Modex 2018. It has since raised hundreds of millions of dollars, grown its product portfolio, and expanded its presence across North America.