Skechers chooses LiBiao’s AirRob tote picking technology for Chinese logistics centre

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Skechers - the US-owned manufacturer of leisure footwear and clothing - has halved the amount of space needed to store close to 100,000 tote boxes and improved pick speeds and picking accuracy at its multi-channel fulfilment hub in Eastern China with the introduction of AirRob – a new automated, high density tote storage and picking solution from LiBiao Robotics.

At the facility, which supplies replenishment stock to some 400 Chinese retail outlets and fulfils online orders directly to Skechers e-commerce customers across China.

the AirRob harnesses established and well-proven autonomous robot-technology to deliver rapid and exceptionally accurate order picking. And, by condensing the size of the area required for racked storage, AirRob makes maximum use of the site’s space.

AirRob travels horizontally and vertically on a lightweight frame that is fitted to the face of storage racking. Straightforward and cost effective to install, the frame infrastructure is compatible with all major racking brands, but the rack structure must be at least two metres high.

AirRob’s clever and compact design allows the aisles of the storage scheme to be reduced to just 0.85 metres wide. 0.85 metres is considerably less than the aisle width that is needed to accommodate even the slimmest very narrow aisle (VNA) lift truck and the building space that is saved by reducing aisles so significantly guarantees that the highest storage density is achieved.

In operation, AirRob travels to its designated location within the storage scheme and automatically picks a tote. With the required box on board it returns to ground level and passes the tote on to a transfer robot. 

In effect, the ground level robot performs the role of a mobile Pick & Drop station. It delivers the tote box and its contents to a designated workstation where a worker removes the required item before replacing the box back on the robot. The transfer ‘bot then returns to the racking and passes the tote back to Airrob to be put away in the correct location again.

Skechers has a fleet of 450 ultra-reliable ‘Mini Yellow’ ground-level robots that ferry totes between the storage system and the workstations. By using multiple ground-level robots the flow of totes is never interrupted.

The Skechers project is the single biggest application of AirRob to be undertaken since the system was launched in August 2023 and is the latest stage of a multi-phased upgrade of the entire facility

Skechers awarded LiBiao Robotics the contract to supply and fit the fully automated AirRob tote handling solution at the hub after LiBiao had successfully designed and installed a split-level robotic parcel sorting system for an earlier phase of the logistics centre’s renovation.

At a ceremony to mark the completion of the latest stage of the Skechers project, Ronan Shen, LiBiao Robotics’ Overseas Sales Director, said: “We have collaborated with Skechers for two years and I am delighted to be able to say that the LiBiao technology that we installed during the earlier phase of this exciting development is delivering consistently exceptional levels of performance.

“Now, the deployment and operation of the AirRob system has yielded significant results too, including a 50 per cent reduction in storage space and an increased pick rate within the warehouse. 

“We believe that the AirRob system fundamentally challenges existing tote-picking solutions. The exceptional flexibility of the system, its low installation and ongoing running costs and the wide range of existing sites for which it is suitable means the market potential for this product is extremely high.”

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