Logistics provider investing $40 million in automated fulfilment centres

Kogan.com, Temple & Webster, Patagonia and MTB Direct are among the local retailers set to benefit from eStore Logistics’ $40 million investment into two new automated fulfilment centres over the next several years.

The warehouses, both located in Melbourne’s western suburbs, will eventually feature over 200 autonomous mobile robots, which are similar in form to household vacuum cleaners and are said to enable faster delivery because they speed up the picking time.

One 8,383sqm fulfilment centre is already operational. The other, a 26,600sqm facility that is larger than the Melbourne Cricket Ground, will open in August. They will handle up to 95,000 orders each day, according to eStore Logistics.

The investment comes amidst a sharp uptick in e-commerce sales following bricks-and-mortar store closures during the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many in the industry say the pandemic fast-tracked several years’ worth of e-commerce growth into a matter of weeks.

At the same time, existing infrastructure for online order fulfilment and delivery has struggled to keep up, with Australia Post warning of “severe delays” due to the unprecedented demand.

Automated warehouses, where robots calculate the most efficient way to pick items off the shelf, and are cheaper to scale up to meet seasonal spikes, such as EOFY, Black Friday and Christmas, than human workers, have been put forward as a possible solution.

According to eStore Logistics, the combination of robots and trained staff makes its picking process up to four times faster than traditional fulfilment centres, which allows retailers to offer later cut-off times for same-day delivery.

The company said it is securing additional sites to form a network of robotics-enabled warehouses across Australia and expects to create more than 100 new jobs over the next two years as it continues to expand.

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