In 2012, Amazon acquired a company called Kiva, which makes automation solutions for the logistics industry. Not long after, you could order a pair of Hanes boxer-briefs in the morning and get them the same afternoon.
The acquisition, Amazon's second-biggest at the time, came with a $775M price tag, and I've read very few credible experts who suggest that it wasn't worth every penny. The ability to process orders with a heavily automated warehouse has given Amazon a massive competitive advantage over rivals like Wal-Mart.
All of which serves to underscore the importance of warehouse logistics, as well as to give some background on the growing importance of the space. That importance is underscored by the recent announcement that Robotics Business Review, a robotics trade publication, recently named Massachusetts-based warehouse robotics company Locus Robotics to its 2016 RBR50, an annual list of the fifty most innovative, noteworthy robotics companies in the world.
"We are honored that Locus Robotics has been chosen as one of the 2016 RBR50," said Bruce Welty, CEO and co-founder of Locus Robotics. "This accolade represents a major milestone for Locus. We are thrilled at the feedback we've received since our launch in November 2015, and look forward to delivering dramatic productivity benefits for warehouse operators around the world."
What's incredible, and a testament to how game-changing Kiva has been for online retail, is that Locus essentially stepped into the vacuum that Kiva left behind when Amazon scooped them up for its own logistics needs.
"If you've been standing anywhere near a warehouse the last few years, you know the story," says Locus's website. "Kiva builds something great. We all love it and use it. Then Amazon buys it.
"We started looking for an alternative. The more we looked, the more obvious it became: if we wanted the right solution we'd have to build it ourselves.
"So we got to work."
Locus Robotics will present its collaborative process, where humans and LocusBots™ work side by side in the same space, at the forthcoming MODEX 2016 in Atlanta (April 4-7). The company estimates its robotic warehouse will bring a 5-8 times improvement in user productivity, an ability to support different types of operations ranging from eCommerce to wholesale to store replenishment, and an approach that "uses existing infrastructure to drive down solution cost and speed time to deployment."
In other words, Kiva-like solutions in a post-Amazon world.
Soon you may have some options for same-day boxer-briefs.