Nimble Robotics Transforms eCommerce Fulfillment, Deploying Fleets of Intelligent Picking Robots, Alleviating Record Labor Shortages
Fortune 500 retailers turn to startup to address labor shortages and meet skyrocketing eCommerce growth
Nimble Robotics, Inc., a robotics and e-commerce fulfillment technology company, shared for the first time a view of its robots picking and packing hundreds of thousands of customer orders in production each day. Nimble is working with many of the world’s largest and most well-known brands including Best Buy, Victoria’s Secret, Puma, NFI/CalCartage, iHerb, Adore Me, Weee! and others. Nimble robots are picking in warehouses developed by the leading solutions integrators like AutoStore, Opex, Bastian, Swisslog, TGW and Kuecker Pulse Integration (KPI).
Nimble has deployed fleets of robots in production within warehouse environments across the United States this year with existing and new contracts that can grow the fleet with over 200 more robots in 2022. The Nimble robots have picked more than 15 million objects, across 500,000 unique products ranging from eye-liners, belts, body wash and loofahs to keyboards, mice, USB sticks and game-consoles to lingerie, hoodies, and footwear – everything from daily essentials to holiday gift favorites.
“They are bringing to market bleeding-edge technology and solving extremely hard problems in a market that is struggling to find labor. We have over 20 Nimble robots today and plan to add more as we grow our fulfillment capabilities.”
Over the past few years two challenges have stifled the adoption of pick and pack robots: robot reliability and technology integration challenges. ECommerce fulfillment centers hold millions of different products. Each of those products are different sizes, shapes, weights, textures, stiffnesses and fragility. Having robots that can reliably handle all of this variability has been considered by many to be impossible. Additionally, integration of technology into warehouse ecosystems is a notoriously painful process. Integration efforts frequently take up to a year, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require thousands of software changes to the warehouse management system (WMS). Nimble’s product offering uniquely solves these two critical challenges.
“Our robots use a variety of different grippers and supervised autonomy to reliably handle nearly any object or product that fits into a bin. Our AI learns what grippers work best on different objects and automatically switches its gripper to properly pick, pack and handle each object. Our technology has been proven to be reliable to 99.9% accuracy in production, but what’s often the most impressive and exciting product feature, in the eyes of our customers, is the way in which we seamlessly integrate our robots. It’s very fast and easy. Our AI-based integration requires no changes to the warehouse software whatsoever. It also costs nothing to implement. The AI interprets the already existing human operator interfaces to determine what items to pick and where to pack them. A full production integration can all be done in one day using Nimble’s AI Integration tool. When I say ‘one day, $0, zero code changes,’ it sounds too good to be true, but our customers will vouch for us,” said Simon Kalouche, Nimble’s founder and CEO. “This has been a significant competitive advantage allowing us to quickly scale. To my knowledge, we’ve now deployed the world’s largest fleet of eCommerce ASRS picking robots. More robots deployed means more proprietary data being collected. Just like with self-driving cars, more data means higher capability and reliability which further drives customer retention and happiness.”
“With logistics and fulfillment experience at Amazon, iHerb and other retail companies, I’ve worked with a lot of technology teams and the Nimble team is the most impressive robotics team I’ve ever worked with,” said Jonathan Styles, director of continuous improvement-lean at iHerb. “They are bringing to market bleeding-edge technology and solving extremely hard problems in a market that is struggling to find labor. We have over 20 Nimble robots today and plan to add more as we grow our fulfillment capabilities.”
“There are a dozen or so robotics companies that claim to have a robotic picking solution. Nimble is the only one I’ve seen that has proven, scaled deployments in real warehouses performing real production picking,” said Helmut Leibbrandt, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management & Logistics – Americas. “They developed a solution that integrated seamlessly within our existing physical and WMS/WCS structure.”
“We haven’t done any marketing and surprisingly we don’t have any dedicated sales reps, yet we’ve deployed a large number of robots. I think this is a testament to the high demand for what we’re building and to our product and how well it works. We let the robots speak for, and sell, themselves. To date, we have 100% customer retention and 100% repeat customers,” said Kalouche. “ECommerce continues to grow rapidly but the available warehouse labor force is actually declining. These opposing trends are creating historic labor shortages and a growing labor supply void. Our robots are being used to augment the human workforce to help fill that void.”
“Nimble partnered with us last year during the COVID outbreak to help us safely fulfill orders in our warehouse. Together we became the first eCommerce fulfillment center in the world with fully robotic picking. The robots now handle our 25,000+ SKUs and can pick over 30,000 units per day,” said Gary Bravard, co-founder and chief business officer of Adore Me.
Since raising a $50 million investment in March earlier this year, Nimble has increased its team from 25 to 75 employees and quickly expanded its customer base. Its robots are deployed in warehouses across the country and will be playing a big role in helping fulfill millions of orders for the 2021 holiday season.