Ocado has purchased two robotics firms, Kindred Systems and Haddington Dynamics, to accelerate the adoption of robotic picking in Ocado warehouses, and those of its retail clients. It acquired Kindred Systems for USD262 million, a company that designs, supplies and services sophisticated piece-picking robots for ecommerce order fulfillment. Haddington Dynamics, which Ocado acquired for USD25 million, specializes in the manufacture of low-cost, lightweight, highly dexterous robotic arms.
Ocado is investing in robotics to improve the economics of grocery home delivery, which if widely adopted, would reduce the number of employees required at online warehouses, while also enabling Ocado and its retail partners to operate warehouses from smaller sites. Ocado has been enhancing its automated picking capabilities in recent months, with the acquisition of a stake in robotics startup Myrmex in 2020, building on earlier trials at its Andover CFC.
In light of the accelerated shift towards grocery ecommerce due to COVID-19, now is the time for suppliers to support the transition to online grocery by evaluating supply chains for speed and flexibility while pivoting resources towards this developing channel. In particular, the increasing adoption of robotics will require brands to ensure compatibility with automated supply chain systems - considering product robustness, size and shape, packaging and labelling design.
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