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More than 360 robots move around the 36,000 square metre fulfilment centre at Moorebank for retailer Catch.
The new technologically advanced centre is aimed at improving delivery times for New South Wales and Queensland customers.
“Previously we fulfilled all of our orders for Australia out of our fulfilment centre in Victoria. So, you can imagine the distance we need to transport is sufficiently reduced as we add this new capacity in NSW,” Catch Managing Director Pete Sauerbon said.
When you place an order a robot immediately travels to the stack the product is in, collects it and directs it to a human worker to check and pre-pack.
“You would pick around 50 to 60 items an hour out of experience. Here, we can pick up to 250 items an hour,” fulfilment centre general manager Joe Schmieg said.
The automated packaging is also helping to make sure recycled cardboard boxes are fitting the items perfectly without using any plastic.
The new technology is trying to respond to the increase in online shopping in the country.
Australia Post’s annual online spending report shows people have spent a record $62 billion in 2021 in online shopping.
And Australians have also made 73 per cent more online purchases than they did in 2019 prior to the pandemic.
Consumer expert, Professor Gary Mortimer, from the University of Brisbane said these changing habits are driven by convenience and ease.
“I think once you’ve set up your online credit card details, your delivery address and you’ve had a great experience that’s why we constantly go back to online shopping,” he said.
The new robotic fulfilment centre also points to a broader acceptance of digital technology, according to Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello.
“Before the pandemic no-one knew about a QR code. Before the pandemic there was only about 30 percent adoption of the digital drivers’ license – now there’s 70 percent adoption,” Mr Dominello said.
The centre is set to be fully operational by November and will have around 200 new employees with most in tech jobs.