According to the Euronics Logistics Director Rivo Reinson, 28 robots, which speed up deliveries to customers by 2-3 hours, or 4-8 times faster than before, have started working at Euronics’ central warehouse in Assaku, near Tallinn. The robots are capable of handling up to 600 boxes per hour and can complete a customer’s order within 20 seconds of the transaction. It should also be said that all the people who worked in the warehouse before the robot warehouse was set up have kept their jobs in the growing company, as experienced and skilled staff were needed elsewhere.
“Quick work in the warehouse allows us to get the goods to couriers for delivery to our customers even faster,” Reinson confirmed. “Through the new system, we will also be able to carry out ten times more frequent checks on the stock of goods – this will allow us to provide customers with more accurate information on the availability of goods,” he said, explaining the efficiencies offered by the smart robotic warehouse.
The Estonian way of efficiency
The AutoStore robotic warehouse implemented by the global automation provider Swisslog in Assaku is unique not only in Estonia but also in the world, and Reinson is delighted that the solution allows for maximum use of the entire floor space. “The idea of creating a robot warehouse came from the fact we were squeezed into one place, we needed to fit a lot of goods into a very small space and that started to affect our efficiency,” he explained. “We kept getting orders, but there was no way for us to get extra space – so we decided to look for efficiency instead, and we found it. The new system makes maximum use of floor space, unlike other automatic storage systems.”
Built into Euronics’ central warehouse, the robot warehouse covers an area of around 600 square metres and can hold up to 21,000 boxes at a time, with internal dimensions of up to 600x400x300 mm and a weight limit of 35 kilograms. “In addition, the 28 robots have low electricity consumption, with 10 robots consuming less electricity than a single vacuum cleaner or fridge,” Reinson said.
The accuracy of orders and the tracking of goods in the warehouse will also become even more efficient, reducing batching errors and making it possible to identify possible mistakes. “There are very few errors in the operation of the system, and if there are any, they are very likely to be human errors,” Reinson explained. He added that even the simultaneous technical failure of several robots would not significantly change the system’s performance. “The remaining robots will be able to continue working and cover the workflow of the missing robots. Major troubleshooting is done with the help of HoloLens augmented reality goggles provided by Swisslog, that allow image and sound, documents and instructions to be shared directly with the system vendor’s technicians through the goggles of a local technician.”
In addition, the technology is flexible. “It’s also important for us that the system is not difficult to move from one building to another,” Reinson noted.
Multi-million investment and collaboration with world leaders
For Euronics, the robot warehouse meant an investment of just over €2 million and seven months of intensive work. “Actually, it would usually take more than a year to build a warehouse like this, we were just very ambitious and did it faster,” Reinson explained, adding that it is a time-consuming process which, as is usual in Estonia, can be sped up if necessary.
The AutoStore robotic warehouse, together with its associated management system has been supplied to Euronics by an international company with Swiss roots, Swisslog, that is part of the Kuka Group based in Germany and has installed 300 AutoStore systems worldwide. “Swisslog has implemented more than 300 out of the 850 automated warehouse projects around the world, and they are one of the few that have the right to represent AutoStore worldwide,” Reinson said about the figures.
Their cooperation with Euronics was also praised by Frank Niemietz, Head of AutoStores Sales Europe at Swisslog. “Our work together went really, really smoothly,” he said. “We overcame all obstacles and Euronics was the first in Estonia to order a robotic warehouse solution from us. The whole team was very committed to making it happen.” Specifically, Euronics was the first Swisslog customer to introduce a AutoStore RelayPort workstations in Estonia. “What makes them special is that they are the fastest of their kind,” explained Reinson. “In other words, it is able to handle the most bins out of the offered workstations. Thus, Euronics has pioneered the use of this type of equipment among Swisslog’s customers.” He added that Euronics was also one of the first Swisslog customers to start using the Hololens augmented reality glasses.
Niemietz believes the new technology will significantly improve Euronics’ competitive advantage in this market. “Thanks to this solution, Euronics has the shortest order fulfilment time possible,” he confirmed. “I am very pleased that this has developed into a strong partnership and that together we can brainstorm how to further develop the systems,” Niemietz concluded .