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Fast Retailing links robotic startups to enhance warehouse automation

By Huw Hughes

Nov 13, 2019

Japanese fashion group Fast Retailing has announced partnerships with two robotics startups in a bid to step up its warehouse automation.

The company, which owns Japanese fast-fashion giant Uniqlo, has linked with Mujin Inc., a Japanese intelligent industrial robot controller manufacturer, and Exotec Solutions SAS, a French robotics solutions provider.

The two startups will help Fast Retailing make its automated warehouses faster and more efficient by developing and internationally deploying picking robots employing artificial intelligence-based motion planning.

Fast Retailing said it plans to initially automate one facility each with MUJIN and Exotec Solutions internationally. This comes after last year the company partnered with worldwide leader in materials handling systems DAIFUKU Co., Ltd., which has helped the company begin to automate two warehouses in Japan and another two abroad.

Moving forward, the fashion group said it plans to expand its partnerships with similar companies that have “advanced technologies", while "recruiting experts to spearhead supply chain reforms.”

Takuya Jimbo, group executive vice president of Fast Retailing, said in a statement: "Fast Retailing is pleased today to welcome two new partners to an alliance we created a year ago. We will draw on the outstanding ability and experience of all three partners to strengthen our supply chain by stepping up our warehouse automation and global transformation.”

"Placing customers at the heart of our business means delivering the right products that meet the real needs of customers, at the right price, in the right quantities, in the right place and at the right time. This is something we aim to be the first company in the world to achieve."

Photo credit: Uniqlo, Facebook