- Powered by an algorithm, the robots scoot around on tracks picking up food items
- The robots travel 4.5 times the circumference of the Earth every day
How does the system work?
The hive is the network that stores all of Ocado’s products. Goods are packed into crates, and 17 such boxes form a stack. The position of each crate in a stack is determined by an algorithm, with frequently picked items at the top and rarer items at the bottom.
The eight-wheeled robots can flexibly move around a giant grid of honeycomb-shaped inventory called “Hive”. Each robot uses a suction cup to pick up the boxes according to the required algorithm, then moves them to a new location or drops them down a vertical chute to reach a picking station.
The use of suction cups to pick up goods also shows better efficiency than using conventional forks, avoiding damage to products such as vegetables.
At these stations, human employees grab the items they need from the crate, place them in the shopping bag and ship them.
Increase order processing efficiency
According to James Matthews, CEO of Ocado Technology, their warehouse is equivalent to the capacity of 35 supermarkets and stores up to 50,000 items.
In this warehouse, their robots take just 5 minutes to pick an order, far exceeding the productivity of an average laborer. Mr. Matthews also said that with a warehouse area of more than 5 hectares, the robots travel 4.5 times the circumference of the Earth every day.
While humans still have a role to play in warehouse operations, armies of robots are replacing hundreds of employees, saving time in moving around the warehouse to collect orders.
This is part of the technology that helps Ocado meet the skyrocketing demand of consumers during the Covid-19 period.