NOTEWORTHY

Smaller Is Big in New E-Commerce Warehouses

The Wall Street Journal, 11.8.20 – A robot army is doing training drills in a narrow warehouse by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Behind loading-dock doors covered in graffiti, the chunky metal machines navigate a 23-foot-tall structure stacked with blue plastic bins, sliding up, down and across metal racks as they select bins and move them to the warehouse floor. Down below, dozens of low-slung, mobile robots that resemble Roomba vacuums sweep along to move the bins to stations where human workers will finally get their hands on the goods.

The intricate dance, choreographed by software and executed with automation, powers a strategy known as microfulfillment. It is aimed at speeding up the delivery of goods to consumers in cities through operations that pack large numbers of products into tight, urban spaces.

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