DesignFuture Japan and Locus Robotics to deploy AMR in Japan

Collaboration in the “Material Bank® Japan” sample marketplace for order fulfillment of interior design, architectural, and construction materials

Locus Robotics has deployed innovative, ESG-friendly AMRs at more than 250 sites world-wide and has picked more than 1.3 billion items

DesignFuture Japan, the Japanese arm of Material Bank®, the world’s largest marketplace for aggregating and sending out material samples, and Locus Robotics, the leader in Autonomous Mobile Robotics (AMR) for logistics and distribution warehouses, announced today that they will collaborate to deploy LocusBots at Material Bank® Japan in their distribution warehouse.

“The reason Material Bank(R) in the United States has grown into a service used by 100,000 designers in just three years is none other than the fact that it greatly contributed to streamlining operations related to sample requests,” said Tsuyoshi Nakazawa, CEO of DesignFuture Japan. “Survey results show that designers in the United States spend nearly 40% of their time requesting samples, but in interviews with Japanese designers, we hear that they spend more time than that. We believe that how quickly we can deliver samples is also important for resolving industry issues. Locus Robotics, which has built a strong partnership with Material Bank® in the United States, supports the rapid and efficient logistics that make this possible. We are very pleased to be able to start this demonstration project in Japan in collaboration with this company.”

The two companies will deploy 25 Locus AMRs, to the Material Bank® Japan distribution facility in Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture to deliver high productivity logistics and order fulfillment. This will improve both the working environment and sustainability through automation and streamlining of picking operations, as well as enhance the customer experience for Material Bank® Japan users.

This is the first deployment for Locus in the Japanese market and the third country in the APAC region following recent deployments in Singapore and Australia.

“Locus Robotics is proud to partner with DesignFuture Japan and Material Bank, sharing our commitment to bring highly effective, scalable and efficient robotics solutions to enable designers and architects in Japan,” said Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics. “This partnership expands our existing US-based relationship with Material Bank, bringing our innovative technology to the Japanese region for the first time. We look forward to working together to deliver eco-friendly, cutting-edge robotics technology that will drive significant operational efficiency and productivity gains.”

Locus Robotics currently operates more than 10,000 AMRs at over 250 sites in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In addition to Material Bank, Locus’s global customers include DHL Supply Chain, GEODIS, Radial, Ryder eCommerce, and VF Corporation. In 2022, the company achieved the industry-first milestone surpassing over 1.3 billion units picked. Locus averages more than three million units picked per day around the world.

Material Bank® Japan provides a material sample marketplace where designers and professionals engaged in interior design, architectural design, display design, etc. can quickly search for and order material samples from a variety of manufacturers on a single site and then receive samples in a single box as early as the next morning.

According to a survey by Material Bank® in the U.S., designers spend nearly 40% of their working hours searching for and ordering building materials. In addition, centralizing samples from multiple manufacturers in Japan will reduce the environmental impact of logistics by approximately 70%; with the reuse of samples that are returned reducing landfill and waste.

DesignFuture Japan has set the goal of reducing environmental impact in the Material Bank® Japan facility while providing a high level of service. It aims to achieve these goals through collaboration with Locus Robotics’ AMRs to not only improve worker productivity 2X vs. traditional fulfillment methods but with Locus’s ESG-friendly sustainability engineering. The LocusBots can have virtually unlimited lifespans, significantly lowering environmental impact.

Japan represents the world’s 4th largest ecommerce market and the need for flexible and scalable automation has dramatically increased to offset an aging population and a growing shortage of available labor. Locus is expanding into Japan with a proven track record of high productivity with Material Bank in the U.S. with its proven, flexible, cost-effective, and scalable robotics automation solutions for the entire warehouse.Role of LocusBots in Material Bank® Japan

Building material samples placed by designers through the Material Bank® Japan website are sent from the Material Bank Warehouse Management System (WMS) to the Locus solution. Locus optimizes the orders and sends them to the LocusBots which autonomously travel to each pick location in the 6,000 m2 distribution center. Workers, collaborating with the LocusBots, pick the specific samples and LocusBots then deliver them to the shipping facility for delivery to customers.

LocusBots are equipped with a highly flexible and configurable platform where the containers and shipping boxes samples are placed. Workers simply follow the LocusBots’ onscreen display information to pick the sample(s) from the appropriate shelves and place them into the designated box. This eliminates unproductive walking time and reduces worker fatigue. LocusBots can carry multiple orders (boxes) at the same time, significantly increasing worker productivity, speed, and order accuracy. The UI is also able to change to the worker’s preferred language, further helping to ensure order accuracy.

The Material Bank® US has grown to the scale of 100,000 users in just three years and their service has significantly contributed to enhanced efficiencies related to architectural and interior design sampling materials. In the US, designers spend almost 40% of their time researching samples of design products for their projects, while in Japan, this number is even higher.

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