Skechers USA automates picking with robots in new facility

Skechers Hai Robotics
Skechers is leveraging Hai Robotics picking technology.

A global footwear and apparel company is maximizing the operational efficiency of a new distribution center with robotic technology.

Skechers USA is deploying a Hai Robotics automated storage and retrieval system in its new distribution center in Minato City, Tokyo, Japan. The company selected this solution for its ability to condense storage, which minimized real estate needed; as well as its adaptability to changing demand and capability to help resolve labor shortage issues.

Supported by material handling consulting company MHE Solutions Inc., Skechers built the new distribution facility to keep up with rapidly growing demand in the Japanese market and to streamline workflows that had previously relied on manual labor, especially picking. 

Staff shortages and expanding SKU variety contributed to high operating costs for Skechers’ manual picking process, with limited outbound picking efficiency and speed. After evaluating several automation providers, Skechers ultimately selected the Hai Robotics HaiPick system.

Skechers seamless integrated the HaiPick system with other technologies in the facility to help more quickly respond to customer orders. The system has also extended employee productivity while reducing physical demand on staff, helping to alleviate disruption from labor shortages.

Within the facility, the HaiPick system covers 139,705 square feet and is operated by 69 HaiPick autonomous case-handling mobile robots (ACRs), which are integrated with the Manhattan Associates cloud-native warehouse management system (WMS). 

ACRs are intelligent, tall pieces of equipment that autonomously navigate narrow aisles and pick containers off the shelving, transporting up to eight at any given time, and deliver them to human-operated workstations.

Skechers’ HaiPick system also contains eight ergonomic workstations where operators receive instructions on a screen of the product and quantity to be picked to fulfill an order. The product is then scanned, and the system confirms order accuracy before the operator can proceed to the following order.

“All automation projects have their challenges, but the Hai team has been a very good partner in maintaining a positive, can-do attitude and remaining committed to doing the right thing for the customer by delivering on their design,” said Sophie Houtmeyers, VP of distribution operations at Skechers, and Michael Pitt, MHE Solutions. “The Hai ACR system facilitated creative application to maximize both utilization of the warehouse floor space and hard-to-reach vertical storage space in a challenging Japanese warehousing design caused by strict fire codes. It has additionally provided productivity gains that are key to the growth of Skechers in the Japanese market.”

“We are honored to help Skechers elevate the operations in their new facility and be a key part in the facility’s ability to quickly reach their customers,” said Brian Reinhart, chief revenue officer at Hai Robotics U.S.A. “We are grateful for the trust that MHE and Skechers have placed in us and thrilled with the success seen so far. We will continue to work closely with MHE Solutions and Skechers to further support their warehouse automation journey and help them go above and beyond in their operational efficiency goals.”

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