10 human-friendly, strong and easily accessible mobile robots will help the employees of BILKA Odense with the physically heavy and time-consuming tasks. This is the result of a fruitful collaboration between startup Coalescent Mobile Robotics and BILKA. The collaboration marks the beginning of a new technological era for the retail industry.
BILKA and Coalescent Mobile Robotics (CMR) announce on 30 March 2022 their partnership to deploy a fleet of 10 mobile robots in BILKA Odense’s ToGo (Click & Collect). This is an innovative pilot project where robots will assist and work with retail staff for the first time.
On average, about 40% of the time on the ToGo process is spent performing the same arduous and physically demanding tasks as pulling and pushing heavy vans. The robot will help by transporting the carts from the warehouse to the store and vice versa.
Mark Nielsen, CEO of BILKA: “The process is streamlined, employees are freed from heavy tasks, the working environment is improved and time is freed to improve our customer service. We see great potential in the robots, which in the future could be included in all BILKA supermarkets and which could perhaps be used for more tasks, possibly for replenishment.”
The robot has been named Serena, after tennis star Serena Williams, because, according to Clionadh Martin, CEO of CMR, she is strong, influential and not afraid to challenge the status quo. In close and constructive cooperation with BILKA, CMR has developed a sociable, human-friendly and, above all, safe and strong robot adapted to the conditions and needs of the supermarket.
Clionadh Martin, CEO of CMR: “Serena is designed to be approachable and is unique in its easily accessible non-industrial design. Many people are afraid of robots, but we want to demystify that and show that they can be great partners. It is important to make robots affordable and to make them useful in a fun and healthy way.”
After a year and a half of cooperation, the robots are now ready to optimise the processes in the BILKA ToGo service. This comes at a time when BILKA ToGo orders have increased from 20 to 400-500 daily orders as a result of the pandemic and when there is a shortage of labour. The robots will bring about multiple benefits to Denmark’s only hypermarket.
With the ongoing pilot programme, CMR plans to install more robots in stores in Denmark, in addition to expanding to other European countries. The company received an investment of DKK 11 million in 2021 and has attracted more investors in general. One of them is Niels Jul Jacobsen, founder of Mobile Industrial Robots and current CEO of Capra Robotics:
Niels Jul Jacobsen, investor in CMR: “I see great potential in CMR and their focus on making humans and robots coexist in the retail industry. Offering a unique and innovative robotic solution to automate internal transport and logistics in retail is a pioneering project that holds so many exciting prospects for the future. CMR is a great example of the unique development in robotics that Denmark and especially Odense is driving these years.”