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2021/01/20 08:37:43 Transformation

High-tech transformation that spreads through logistics!

High-tech transformation that spreads through logistics!


With rapid changes taking place in all industries, the industries that are advancing are construction, logistics, and food and drink. In logistics, Nitori and UNIQLO are transforming in response to Amazon, which is advancing worldwide.

UNIQLO and Nitori, the whole picture of ultra-high-tech logistics


Logistics suffering from a serious labor shortage will change drastically. Companies in various industries such as retailers, trading companies, and gas are rapidly advancing the digital transformation of logistics. We are approaching the forefront of "logistics tech" that makes full use of the latest technologies such as AI and robots.

Fast Retailing and Nitori Holdings are performing well. The two companies, which handle everything from manufacturing to retailing, have something in common. The point is that we are focusing on making warehouses high-tech. We approach the scene where robots come and go.

Ariake district in Koto Ward, Tokyo. Trucks constantly move in and out of the huge buildings that rise over the bay. It is a distribution warehouse for UNIQLO's EC (electronic commerce) site operated by FAST RETAILING. It went live in October 2018. In addition to storing products, it handles a series of operations from picking to packing and delivery according to EC orders.

Urgently strengthen the EC business in addition to stores (Photo courtesy of FAST RETAILING)

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It is a folding container with luggage and a robot for unloading that moves in the warehouse. I can hardly see any human figures.

Sweat oozes when the reporter walks on the floor. hot. Is it because it is not necessary to make the air conditioning suitable for humans?

Figure Automation technology introduced by FAST RETAILING in a distribution warehouse in Ariake, Tokyo

Automate most tasks

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"I want to build a warehouse that fully adopts automation technology all over the world in 3 years." Tadashi Yanai, Chairman and President of Fast Retailing, is enthusiastic. China, Thailand, Australia, the east and west coasts of the United States ... The development of automation technology modeled after the Ariake warehouse is already underway around the world. In Japan as well, the company plans to introduce it to three warehouses for EC, including Ariake, and nine warehouses for stores. The investment amount is 1 to 10 billion yen per base. The total amount of the world as a whole is 100 billion yen.

Figure Changes in FAST RETAILING's logistics reforms and changes in sales

Note: Japanese GAAP until 2012, IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) after 2013

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Fully automated within a year

Product warehousing speed is 80 times, warehousing speed is 19 times, personnel are reduced by 90%, and the number of steps of picking workers is zero. This is the effect of the automation technology that FAST RETAIL introduced in the Ariake warehouse. Making full use of IoT (Internet of Things) technology such as RFID (wireless automatic identification) tags and sensors, and robot technology. Each product is distinguished by RFID so that the position and movement can be tracked. This automates operations other than picking, from product warehousing to unloading, inspection, storage, warehousing instructions, box making, sealing, sorting, and container cleaning.

For picking work, which requires only one manpower, instead of the worker walking around, a mechanism was realized in which "things come to the worker without permission" (Takuya Jimbo, Senior Executive Officer). Based on the order data, the container containing the specified product is sent to the worker by a belt conveyor. The worker takes out the product from the container according to the instructions on the screen in front of him and packs it in the shipping box. Since the Ariake warehouse was put into trial operation in the spring of 2018, "there is no inspection omission" (same as above).

The only remaining manual work is "automated within a year at the latest" (same as above). It seems that it is supposed to utilize an arm-shaped robot equipped with image recognition technology.