Flipkart, India’s leading e-commerce marketplace, has introduced the country’s first robot-based sortation technology, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) at its Soukya sortation center in Bangalore. Designed to optimise efficiency and precision on the back-end of the supply chain, the AGVs will help Flipkart meet ever-growing customer and scale demands, ensuring faster delivery and an enhanced experience for online shoppers. Since its inception, Flipkart has been growing at a rapid pace. As more customers turn to e-commerce and to bring the next 200 million shoppers online, the business has to scale up to meet increasing demand, which necessitates more innovation and tech in the supply chain. As a tech-driven company, Flipkart has always innovated to drive scale, with automation in the supply chain leading the way. Doing this helps large-scale expansion of the supply chain to enhance customer experience and increase efficiency, while keeping operational costs in check.
As a homegrown tech company, Flipkart continues to pioneer and lead the way in tech-driven solutions across the e-commerce industry in India. This India-first initiative further cements Flipkart’s position as the front-runner in bringing and developing futuristic, best-in-class technology in India. The Soukya set-up involves 100+ self-guided bots that automatically sort packages to the right customer pincodes by identifying encoded information on each package. It will enable better throughput from an existing facility, removing the need for space expansion, and will enable the current manpower allocated to the task to be upskilled to do higher value-adding work — all at similar or lower cost.
The Soukya facility has around 1000 employees at present and processes lakhs of shipments a day. The AGVs will work in conjunction with facility staff, who will be trained in operating them. Tests indicate deploying 100 of these AGVs can lead to over 60% increase in process efficiency. The setup can process up to 4,500 shipments in an hour and can be scaled over 5x with minimal changes. The other advantage is that they can be easily moved across locations as well. This allows a kind of unparalleled flexibility and mobility that will be needed to scale supply chain operations for future demand.
This will also help Flipkart keep up with scale requirements, speed up the delivery process further, and boost customer experience, which is at the core of our values as a company.
Flipkart is committed to helping Indians better adopt the latest technologies in a variety of fields. The use of AGVs will enable Flipkart to upskill unskilled labour and future automation will create space for Indian engineers to leverage their expertise in this arena. As the automation and robotics ecosystem in India is currently in a nascent stage, Flipkart plans to partner with startups and university campuses to drive innovation and research in this space. The company will be building a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Robotics & Automation, focusing engineering, product, and automation teams under one umbrella. Some future mandates for the CoE will be further automation, IoT, electric vehicles etc. This will help continue building India-specific solutions, hiring talent, and incorporating affordable automation into the business model.
Sharing his views on the launch of the AGVs, Krishna Raghavan, Senior Vice President of eKart Tech at Flipkart said, “With the Automated Guided Vehicles, we are re-imagining new growth paths, while orchestrating new and innovative ways of working. We believe this will help bring efficiencies, agility and scale to the supply chain operations, helping us serve the customer better. This India-first initiative is the first stepping stone in this journey. Going forward, we will be looking at how we can help build the country’s nascent automation ecosystem through R&D and collaboration so we can continue building India-specific solutions.”
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