HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—C-StoreMaster’s new 130,000-square-foot automated warehouse in Huntsville, Alabama, includes robotic solutions designed to eliminate the need for employees to walk long distances or lift heavy goods for order fulfillment.
Specializing in the tobacco and beverage categories, C-StoreMaster services 4,500+ independent c-stores and 6,000+ chain stores throughout the country.
C-StoreMaster partnered with Geek+ to incorporate three automation technologies in the new warehouse, improving picking accuracy to 99.99%, the company says. The robotic solutions include Geek+’s flagship P800 goods-to-person picking robots as well as its Roboshuttle.
“By implementing the robotic system, C-StoreMaster has increased their picking productivity by three to four times,” said Rick DeFiesta, executive vice president of sales and solutions at Geek+. “As the company continues to experience impressive growth, our cutting-edge system will help them provide even faster service for their customers.”
To honor the warehouse opening and C-StoreMaster's dedication to advancing technology in Alabama, Governor Ivey proclaimed December 8 as Technology Innovation Day. The new warehouse has created 30 jobs as the company rapidly expands distribution throughout the country.
“To bring the first multi-level shuttle system of its kind in the country to Huntsville is a great accomplishment for our team,” said Sharan Kalva, C-StoreMaster president. “Innovation has always been at the forefront of our business, and with this new warehouse, C-StoreMaster is set up for success for years to come.”
Robot labor is growing amid the country’s own labor shortage. Robot orders for workplaces increased 40% during the first quarter of 2022 compared with the first quarter of 2021, which is a record amount.
Walmart recently transformed a Texas distribution center into a high-tech automation center. The multi-million-dollar renovation now includes a combination of AI-powered software systems, robotics and automation to sort, store, retrieve and pack merchandise onto pallets which are then shipped to stores.
This fall, Sam’s Club completed a roll out of inventory scanning towers that have been added to its existing fleet of floor scrubbing robots. Once installed on the scrubber, the cloud-connected Inventory Scan tower captures data as it moves autonomously around the store. The scrubbers then capture insights such as product localization, planogram compliance, product stock levels and verification of pricing accuracy for items that will be delivered to the store.
In the restaurant industry, Miso Robotics’ Flippy 2 robot is automating the process of deep-frying potatoes, onion rings and other foods, which can help speed up drive-thru times for fast-food restaurants. Earlier this year, Panera Bread tested an automated coffee machine by Miso Robotics in two locations that use AI to monitor coffee volume and temperature.
Chipotle also invested in Hyphen, a foodservice platform designed to help restaurant owners, operators and chefs move their businesses forward by automating kitchen operations. The company's first product, The Makeline, is an automated system that utilizes advanced robotics and a customized operating system to make and fulfill orders.
More insights on last-mile solutions was captured in the NACS Magazine feature, “Robots Deliver.” NACS also explored AI and machine learnings applications for the c-store industry, especially in foodservice, in “Welcome to an Intelligent 2022” in the January 2022 issue.