Note: I do not work for Instock. I wrote this article because I like the solution they created.
The importance of fulfilling online orders for grocery and e-commerce continues to grow. Along with the growth is a need for retailers to invest in solutions that reduce costs and complexity and increase the speed of delivery to customers. Robotic systems are the ideal solution.
However, a challenge for many retailers is the high-cost of purchasing and installing a solution. Worse, many retailers find that the software is lacking and it leads to work arounds or even the need for using 3rd-party software.
Several startups have been working in stealth to come up with better software and a better solution. One company in particular is Instock.com led by co-founder and CEO Yegor Anchyshkin.
For more than a decade, Instock has worked with retailers to identify optimal robotic technology. According to Instock, “We experienced a strong need for a solution that could provide a deeper level of flexibility to meet both current needs and future unknowns, reliably move operations that might run 24/7 and be widely accessible. We created a as-a-Service Automated Storage and Retrieval Solution (ASRS) for micro-fulfillment operarions.”
Instock placed their focus on three core tenets.
First — make it software. Hardware can be hard for a reason, so they intentionally shifted a number of traditionally-hardware problems into the realm of software. “Our grid is static, hyper modular and tremendously affordable to install or even move. Our robot is singular in design, can do every task in any location, and is 100% autonomous. The interface between the grid and the robot is also as simple as it can get: just a wheel on a magnetized flat surface.”
Second — simulation first. Seeing is believing and virtual reality is low risk — Instock starts by doing everything in their high-fidelity simulator. From initial design to upgrades or changes, Instock simulates it first so customers can see an accurate representation of what will happen in real life. Note: This is very important.
Third — enable self-service. Instock believes that a self-service level of productization is the bar to support end users. Their design is for straightforward preventative, predictive and corrective maintenance that can be done by a lay user.
I like the flexibility of the solution to be easily customized to meet the needs of retailers, logistics companies, etc. The system can be installed inside a store to automate order fulfillment, or installed inside a stand-alone warehouse.
Instock made the right decision to offer a as-a- Servuce for AS/RS model and to ensure they have the best software on the market. Software is the Achilles Heel for most robot and automation vendors.
I encourage all companies interested in robotic micro-fulfillment to contact Instock.