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Lighter robots and hi-tech routing – Ocado innovates to generate growth

  • Developed lighter robots and warehouse racks
  • Also developed on-grid robotic arms for picking products
  • Says innovations will attract more partners
  • Shares up 5.4%

LONDON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – From lightweight robots to high-tech van routing systems, British online supermarket Ocado on Wednesday unveiled a range of innovations it predicts will boost its yields and win new customers for its technology.

Ocado (OCDO.L) has already entered into agreements to supply its technology to supermarket groups in eight countries, including Kroger (KR.N) in the United States, Aeon (8267.T) in Japan, Casino in France and Coles (COL. AX) in Australia, bringing its market value to 10.7 billion pounds ($14.5 billion).

The stock was up 5.4% at 3:58 p.m. GMT.

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Latest innovations include a robot that is 80% lighter than its predecessor and described by the company as “the lightest and most efficient grocery delivery robot in the world”, as well as lighter warehouse racks on which robots can work.

He said robotic arms have also been developed that work with the robots to automate the picking and packing of customer orders directly from the grid.

The company expects robotic arms to be able to select nearly 50% of its product line by the end of next year and 80% in the long term. Read more

Ocado has also automated the process of loading customer orders onto delivery frames ready to ship.

Other innovations include a routing system that allows both short-lead and larger, longer-lead orders to be delivered from the same truck, and a virtual distribution center that reduces costs associated with incoming stock.

“CHANGING THE GAME”

CEO Tim Steiner, who co-founded Ocado two decades ago, said the new capabilities would allow the group and its partners to install platforms much faster and in simpler, highly optimized buildings, requiring lower capital expenditure.

He said partners would also be able to achieve higher product throughput from the same or lower building footprint, reduce labor costs by 30% in the medium term and 40 % in the long term and solve labor shortage problems.

“We broke the trade-off between large warehouses and small warehouses, creating a way for small warehouses to operate close to the customer while sharing the economics of a large warehouse,” Steiner told Reuters.

He said any warehouses the partners want to open from the end of 2023 will be able to take advantage of all the new capabilities. All innovations can also be adapted to the warehouses of existing partners.

“For Ocado, the game-changing capabilities…mean that we will be able to expand our current opportunity as well as reach and enter new types of markets faster than previously possible,” Steiner added. .

($1 = 0.7400 pounds)

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Reporting by James Davey Editing by Mark Potter, Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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