As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world in early 2020, global supply chains came under the spotlight. Warehouses, essential to the functioning of the global economy, became potentially unsafe workplaces virtually overnight. With vast numbers of goods flowing in and out of these buildings, protecting warehouse employees from infection became a critical priority for many businesses.
Geek+, a company specializing in software and robotics for warehouses, was ready to help. Its goods-to-person and bin-to-person picking solutions, along with its autonomous mobile robots that transfer items from inventory directly to work stations, allowed warehouse employees to maintain social distancing while minimizing their contact with inventory. In the event that a worker became infected, Geek+ software could track ever y inventory shelf that they interacted with, so the company could disinfect contaminated items immediately.
In addition to these integrated warehouse solutions, which were already on the market, Geek+ quickly developed and introduced two disinfection robots: “Lavender,” which disinfects using UV rays, and “Jasmin,” which employs a disinfecting vapor. Both are equipped with precise navigation technology and multisensors that detect nearby people.
Responding to customer needs quickly and effectively is central to Geek+’s mission, and it’s a big reason why the company earned a spot on Fast Company’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies.
A COMMITMENT TO R&D
In the seven years since Geek+ was founded in Beijing, the company has diversified its offerings to cover many different robotics solutions that meet a wide array of customer needs. COO Mark Messina credits the R&D team with making this continual innovation possible. “Of our 900 or so employees, about half are dedicated to R&D,” he says.
According to Messina, developing new solutions begins with looking for ways to make customers’ lives easier. “The development process always starts with the customer,” he says. Since Geek+ analyzes operational data of its systems, engineers can identify areas to improve efficiency and develop hardware or software solutions to meet those needs.
EVEN SMARTER ROBOTS
The C200M RoboShuttle bin-to-person picking robot, launched in May 2020, exemplifies the company’s innovative spirit. The RoboShuttle is an autonomous mobile robot that identifies and picks standard-size warehouse bins and carries them to employee workstations. Operating via smart scheduling, it has the ability to deliver multiple bins in a single trip throughout single-floor or multi-floor mezzanines.
Unlike other automation solutions, the RoboShuttle can be installed within existing operations without the need to add any additional equipment. The standard five-meter height of the robot can be adjusted to meet the needs of each customer, and it can be connected to other automation equipment, such as conveyor lines and other robots, making it easy to integrate and customize. “Our RoboShuttle is a very high-performing solution that stays true to our core,” Messina says. “It’s efficient, reliable, and flexible. Our systems are not bolted down.”
How does Geek+ make its robots? With robots, of course. The company runs the world’s first smart factory, based in Nanjing, China, that uses robot arms to produce other robots. All of the company’s robots are now produced in the Geek+ factory—a testament to the company’s belief in its products and its devotion to innovation.