At MODEX 2022, inVia CEO Lior Elazary sat down with Kyle VanGoethen, Head of Network Planning at Stord for a Q&A session titled, “Modernizing Warehouses for an On-Demand World”, which covered a range of topics around inVia and Stord partnership including why Stord chose inVia to help modernize its warehouse.
Stord is a supplier of cloud-based supply chain services to help brands realize greater visibility and control over their inventory and their orders. inVia has partnered with Stord to develop a customized warehouse automation solution that included Robotics as a service (RaaS) capabilities for the logistics company.
Lior: When you were looking at different automation solutions, what were some of the pain points you were trying to solve?
Kyle: In the world of public warehousing where Stored doesn’t control the goods that come in, CAPEX is a big deal. As our business evolves, we needed a solution that was flexible and scalable. We liked that inVia is able to segregate the hardware from the software. We’re implementing the software first, then it’s a light lift to gain optimization from the warehouse execution system. The addition of robotics simply pushed the efficiencies we realized through the roof. The combination of CAPEX, scalability and speed was unrivaled.
Our goal for customers is to multiply human effectiveness so they run the same warehouse with their core people and still absorb more demand and growth. Robotics helps people do their jobs differently and better than before.
Lior: What were the key items you were looking for in trying to choose a vendor?
Kyle: We’re on a fast growth track so we need a partner that can work at our speed. We also wanted a vendor that could step into the solution. We can augment our existing facility infrastructure systems with inVia’s system. We didn’t have to shut down part of the warehouse to install the hardware and software. Our ability to build in tandem with their operations enabled us to see efficiencies very quickly.
Lior: You mentioned that deploying into existing warehouses and realizing sales efficiencies quickly are important for Stord. Was this why you chose inVia?
Kyle: What clinched it for us was the flexibility, speed and the pricing model that inVia offered. RaaS allowed us to augment our existing infrastructure and people, without spending millions of dollars right out of the gate. We can step into the solution, turning the knob up and down depending on how our business changes. Flexibility and being nimble are two qualities we have to have as an organization.
Lior: What did you like about inVia’s system and how did it help you?
Kyle: We were able to bolt onto the back side of our WMS, the API and webhooks were there and clean. Your team does a great job of working with us, where decisions are going to be for movement and inventory allocation. The inVia system has a very intuitive user interface, allowing us to get rates of 300-400 lines per hour, far exceeding what we do in our warehouses per day. It’s hardware-agnostic, so I can throw any tablet, scan gun or scanner into the mix. We’re not locked into hardware, which allows us to move as fast as we need..
Lior: For those considering warehouse automation systems, what should they be looking for based on your own experiences?
Kyle: You have to have a firm commitment from your IT team. Everything is described as plug-and-play, but that’s often not the case. It’s often a heavier lift. If you have the right people in place, the gains from a new system are more than worth it. It may not go smoothly on day one, but it will on day two. If you can iterate fast, which inVia’s system allows, you’ll be in good shape.
Lior: What have you not seen from automation that you’d like to see?
Kyle: We’ve solved the AMR process, the picking process and the movement of goods to the pick front. The next area would be the ability to see bulk items moved more easily. Packing activities and decanting are still largely done manually, but we’re getting closer. Picking was the largest challenge and most time-sensitive, so it made sense to tackle that first. Now that we have that in bed, the next area for automation would be receiving, decanting and replenishment.