Fetch Robotics Partners with VARGO® to Introduce Integrated Fulfillment Solution

Fetch Robotics, a cloud robotics provider, announced a partnership with VARGO, a leading provider of material-handling systems integration, warehouse execution software (WES) and equipment solutions, to launch an integrated fulfillment solution. The new solution will combine the power of Fetch’s Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) with Continuous Order Fulfillment Engine or “COFE,” VARGO’s industry-leading warehouse execution system (WES), to enable distribution centers to optimize order fulfillment.

The growth of e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment has pushed companies to optimize their order fulfillment processes to gain efficiencies and to do so with more speed and accuracy. This trend has been further accelerated by COVID-19, which has placed additional strain on distribution centers to increase throughout while keeping employees socially distanced. Many companies have begun applying more automation in their systems in response to this continued pressure and also integrating social distancing into the workflows by dynamically reassigning tasks to specific workers and orchestrating AMR movement. This enables distribution centers to maintain high worker productivity and high worker safety at the same time, according to the vendors.

“Distribution centers today are under more pressure than ever before, both in terms of operational efficiency and worker safety. To contend with steadily growing order volumes and an ongoing labor shortage, distribution and fulfillment centers must embrace smarter technology to keep fulfillment operations running,” said Stefan Nusser, Chief Product Officer at Fetch Robotics. “COFE’s history of providing system-wide pick optimization and orchestration across different workflows and types of automation equipment makes it a perfect complement to robot-assisted picking.”

The combined solution from Fetch and VARGO enables a single system to provide optimized piece, batch and case picking workflows with payloads up to 1 1/2 tons for e-commerce, retail distribution and omnichannel operations. COFE’s “pull-based” fulfillment optimization can yield efficiency gains of over 30 percent compared to sites driven by traditional “waved/push-based” warehouse management systems, according VARGO. When combined with Fetch’s AMRs, COFE can offer further efficiency gains by allowing workers to spend more time picking as opposed to manually moving material throughout a facility and can use insights about overall warehouse operations to improve robot workflows.

“As e-commerce fulfillment operators face ever-increasing pressure to reduce labor and deliver higher levels of production in a more scalable and flexible way, the combination of VARGO and Fetch Robotics, under this alliance, provides a powerful and compelling fulfillment solution,” said Bart J. Cera, president and COO of VARGO. “We are excited about our company’s formal alignment with Fetch Robotics to further deliver industry-leading, robust and expansive solutions for the challenges that e-commerce and distribution operations face.”

Under the integration with COFE, Fetch’s cloud robotics platform continues to play its role in terms of fleet management, and dynamically controlling robot movements, but COFE orchestrates the larger warehouse fulfillment process and the sequence of picking activity to be supported by the robots, in effect integrating the AMRs into the larger, pull-driven fulfillment process optimized by COFE.

“The two optimzation engines complement each other perfectly because they each have a different view,” Nusser says. “COFE sees the world of warehouse processes, while our cloud robotics platform focuses on optimizing the fleet and other issues including navigation and travel to achieve the shortest paths and to avoid congestion. It’s a nice separation of duties, with the two solutions working hand in hand.”

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