The Top 10 Automated Warehouses
Before we get you into the Top 10 Automated Warehouses, you might want to check this article out as it appears in our March Issue of Supply Chain Digital.Trust us, it's way cooler to read this article when you can flip through our user-friendly e-reader.
You can’t compile an automated warehouse list without putting this warehouse giant on it. We left Wal-Mart at No. 10 because it doesn’t really have warehouses per se, unless you consider the fact that every Wal-Mart superstore is essentially a consumer-operated automated warehouse. You can kind of say it’s automated because the hordes of consumers that pile into Wal-Mart each day are kind of like robots the way they zig-zag through every aisle.
9. COCA COLA
Coca Cola’s fully automated warehouse for the EMEA region is a sophisticated facility that provides on-site storage, thus eliminating the expensive double-handling task that bogs down logistics when shipping stock off-site to local warehouses. Delivered by FKI Logistics, Coca Cola’s warehouse houses 25,224 pallet locations and is designed to accommodate future expansion of the factory.
“Wait a minute, that doesn’t look anything like an automated warehouse!” That’s probably what you’re thinking if you watch this awesome Netflix video. You’re right because those people are most certainly not robots. Netflix uses humans to send off those DVD copies of “Black Dog” and “A Walk to Remember” each and every day. Some futurists might be calling for robots to optimize Netflix, but with next-day shipping for every order, you cannot question the efficiency of this human-automated warehouse.
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Amazon.com fulfillment centers are located all over the world, including 18 in the U.S., 20 in Europe and 10 in Asia. Interesting enough, none of the Amazon.com fulfillment centers are located within 500 miles of the headquarters in Seattle, Washington. There aren’t enough resources for each of these to be state-of-the-art automated warehouses, but they do deploy a certain degree of automation. Amazon basically used this massive network of strategic locations to become the largest online retailer in the world.
6. FEDEX SUPERHUB
FedEx uses 4,000 employees during the day and 8,000 at night so it’s not a fully automated operation by any means. But the SuperHub is still an unbelievable facility with plenty of automated solutions that keep FedEx connected to any point on the globe. There are 300 miles of conveyor belts that help support the nearly 3.3 million packages that come through Memphis International Airport each day.
Nike’s “Distribuzione” is an automated warehouse for the European region that holds more than 25,000 SKUs and also where 43 million items are handles each year. The heart of the system is a 280 meter long loop sorter, which handles both automated inbound and outbound orders.
IKEA, the Swedish international home products manufacturer uses automated warehouse services to send distribute those connect-me-if-you-can home items to locations all over the world. With furniture that is found in so many of today’s homes, IKEA can be thought of as the leading furniture logistics company. IKEA grossed about € 23.5 billion in 2010, and it was able to drive out significant costs with the implementation of automated warehouse solutions.
3. UPS WORLDPORT
Worldport is the worldwide hub for United Parcel Service and it’s located at the Louisville International Airport in Kentucky. The automated services used at the sorting hub helps UPS handle 84 packers per second, or 416,000 per hour. UPS really does love logistics, and one reason it does is because of the automated distribution systems at Worldport.
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Diapers.com was founded in 2005 and quickly became the largest specialty retailer for baby products. Diapers.com set out delivering diapers, wipes and formula to parents with free 1-2 day shipping, but eventually expanded to include clothes, car seats, strollers and toys and you can check out this awesome video to see how it all goes down. Think about the awesomeness of this solution. You can order diapers for your child while sitting on the couch in your boxers watching ESPN. It doesn’t get much better than that.
An empire built by Tony Hsieh, Zappos gained widespread notoriety for delivering items within 24 hours of a purchase. With the help of its automated warehouse, Zappos grossed over $1 billion in 2009, which eventually led to Amazon.com paying $1.2 billion deal to acquire Zappos. As you can see from the video, Zappos deploys fully automated warehouse services from KIVA Systems to help the company get the most efficiency out of its operation in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Zappos is able to maintain free shipping, a 365-day return policy and a full-time call center only with the help of its automated warehouse. Zappos is quick, free and easy … just like … Nevermind.
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Airbus Expanding Local Supply Chain in China
The reshaping of Airbus’ global supply chain during the pandemic will shift greater focus to China, the world’s fastest growing aviation market, according to China Daily.
Yang Xiaoyu, the company’s Head of Flyable Procurement in China and East Asia, says Airbus is building a “vertical integration supply chain” to source parts and materials, assemble, and deliver aircraft locally.
Yang Xiaoyu says the strategy will “lower costs of transportation and raise efficiency”, adding that Airbus will also work collaboratively with local Chinese suppliers to bring them “in line with global standards of Airbus”, strengthening its ties and capabilities across the territory.
China on Track to World’s Largest Aviation Market
Further expansion into China is unsurprising given the nation’s continuing emergence as the world’s economic superpower. It is steadily becoming the world’s biggest aviation market, and is a strategic territory to Airbus for deliveries and global production.
China already accounts for around a quarter of Airbus’s global commercial aircraft production, with more than 1,700 Airbus commercial jetliners in service in China as of the end of 2018. Even under the pandemic Airbus delivered 99 plane to China in 2020 and 64 in the first half of 2021, despite on-going disruption and widespread downturn in aviation.
China Central to Airbus Supply Chain Expansion
The country is also a strategic hotspot in Airbus’ global supply chain. The European aerospace giant established a final assembly line (FAL) in Tianjin, a port city in northeastern China, in 2008. It was the first to be built outside the borders of its four founding European countries - France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
It expanded the site to include a wide-body completion and delivery centre in 2017. In July 2021, the production site delivered the first Airbus A350 to China Eastern Airlines. George Xu, Airbus Executive Vice President and Airbus China CEO, said: “This is a new milestone in the long-term cooperation between China and Airbus, which further demonstrates Airbus’ commitment to the country.”
As of the end of June 2021, China Eastern Airlines operated an Airbus fleet of 413 aircraft, including 349 A320 Family aircraft, 55 A330 Family aircraft and nine A350 aircraft.
Today Airbus has around 200 Chinese suppliers. These include a composite manufacturing centre in Harbin, as well as engineering, customer support and training centres located in Beijing.
Top image: Airbus / The first A350 delivered from China to China Eastern Airlines