Uniqlo’s 1st automated warehouse cuts manpower by 90%

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Fast Retailing Co.’s warehouse in Koto Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday, where most work is automated

The Yomiuri Shimbun Fast Retailing Co., which operates the Uniqlo apparel retail chain, unveiled to reporters on Tuesday a warehouse in the Ariake district of Tokyo where a robotic system automatically conducts work such as inspections and sorting apparel goods. The system started full-scale operations this month, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in manpower at the location, according to the company.

This is the company’s first warehouse in which most of the work has been automated.

The robotic system is designed to transfer products delivered to the warehouse by truck, read electronic tags attached to the products and confirm their stock numbers and other information.

When shipping, the system wraps products placed on a conveyor belt in cardboard and attaches labels to them. Only a small portion of work at the warehouse needs to be done by employees, the company said.

The company developed the automated system by remodeling an existing warehouse in collaboration with Daifuku Co., a leading provider of material handling systems.

Automating one warehouse costs about ¥1 billion to ¥10 billion ($9 million to $90 million).

Tadashi Yanai, chairman and president of the company, nevertheless said at a press conference, “I want to introduce [the system] at our warehouses across the world within a few years.” Speech

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