Boots UK and Locus Robotics Win Supply Chain Excellence Award for “Best Use of Robotics”

17 November 2020

Boots, the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer, and Locus Robotics, the market leader in autonomous mobile robots for fulfilment warehouses, have been named the winners of the 2020 Supply Chain Excellence Award for “Best Use of Robotics.” The Supply Chain Excellence Awards, now in their 24th year, are recognised for their rigorous judging process and have become a benchmark for best practices in the Supply Chain, attracting entries from across the UK and Europe.

Award judges praised the seamless implementation of the Locus solution and applauded the solution for its improvement in throughput capacity.

“We are thrilled to be recognised as a Supply Chain Excellence Award winner” said Adam Coventry, Head of Warehousing, Boots UK. “Our ongoing work using robotics in our warehouses and our partnership with Locus continues to be important to the success of our e-commerce business, ensuring that our fulfilment centre operations are optimised even in the face of seasonal peaks and COVID-19. The flexibility of the solution we currently use, as well as the ability to scale quickly to meet growing demand, enables us to easily adapt to keep up with increasing order volumes and shifting consumer demands in this new era of retail.”

Boots UK partnered with Locus Robotics early in 2019, deploying 135 autonomous, mobile, and collaborative LocusBots in their Burton-upon-Trent, UK warehouse facility to support anticipated holiday season volume growth. LocusBots are designed to work collaboratively with human associates, travelling to picking locations, and reducing physical demand to improve the worker experience while simultaneously increasing throughput.

The deployment was a fast success, with LocusBots driving a 200% increase in productivity and picking over 3 million items on behalf of Boots throughout the Black Friday season (November 21 through December 2). The Locus solution also improved workplace culture, with a 77% reduction in worker accidents and a significant reduction in worker absences and attrition, with cross-generational acceptance of the Locus technology.

Boots scaled up its Locus solution deployment in January 2020 to include over 200 robots in its UK facility. The retailer’s timely decision to expand its robotic fleet benefited it greatly during the unanticipated COVID-19 pandemic when shopping moved from in-store to online.

Prior to Locus, Boots had been an early adopter of fixed infrastructure automation to improve its warehouse operations. However, it realised that its systems were already reaching capacity limits and they were forecasting an escalating demand ahead of the 2019 peak. The Locus solution gave it a flexible and effective solution, enabling Boots to overcome labour challenges and ensure a seamless customer experience. When the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, the Locus solution allowed them to seamlessly scale up to meet the explosion of online ordering due to lockdowns, without compromising productivity.

“It is an honour to be recognised by the Supply Chain Excellence Awards for our work in the robotics category alongside Boots, one of the UK’s biggest and most successful retailers,” said Rick Faulk, CEO, Locus Robotics. “This award showcases the real impact that robotics has across retail and the supply chain. As our work with Boots shows, autonomous mobile robots are now essential for retailers looking to remain successful amid the e-commerce boom that has been accelerated by the pandemic. We look forward to continuing to work together and are excited about what 2021 has in store for our partnership.”

The 24th Supply Chain Excellence Awards were held on November 12th, 2020. For more information, visit https://www.supplychainexcellenceawards.com/event-information.