Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Office Depot: Flexible automation

Mobile robotics is powering Office Depot’s new demand-driven distribution center.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
August 20, 2010

When Office Depot decided to consolidate three distribution centers and a crossdock facility into one, new state-of-the-art DC in Newville, Pa., the office supplies retailer looked for an automated materials handling solution that was efficient and flexible. More importantly, they wanted a system that would deliver a competitive edge in the marketplace.

They found that edge in a goods-toperson picking solution featuring two different mobile robots (Kiva Systems, 781-221-4640). One robot handles cases while a larger robot moves pallet loads in the facility that went live just a few months ago.

Betting a part of your distribution strategy on robotic materials handling may seem like a risky move, especially given the conservative nature of retail distribution. But, Office Depot is convinced that the time has come for robotics in the DC; after three decades on the manufacturing line, robotics technology is proven, reliable and, says Office Depot, a potential game changer.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

MHI announced the MHI 2015 Innovation and Young Professional Award winners last night at their 70th Anniversary Celebration during ProMat 2015.

Today marks the conclusion of ProMat 2015, four days of comprehensive problem solving and networking to provide solutions to the complex manufacturing and supply chain challenges faced by industry today.

With a record 155,000 square feet of exhibit space reserved by nearly 350 companies back in December 2014, Modex 2016 will continue the show’s expansion in both solution offerings and popularity.

Doosan (Booth 662) highlighted the new BR18/20SP-7 narrow aisle reach truck, its first product in the class. It also showcased its first engine, which replaced third-party engines and is now used in all Doosan products.

During Wednesday’s afternoon keynote address, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, affectionately known as “The Woz,” suggested the future of technology now is every bit as uncertain to him as it was 30 years ago.