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Home>Industry Sector>Distribution>US start-up online grocer invests in ‘micro’ fulfilment centres

US start-up online grocer invests in ‘micro’ fulfilment centres

22 May 2018

Boston-area start-up, Takeoff Technologies, is developing the ‘micro’ fulfilment centres that feature logistics automation from Knapp. 

Instead of forming its own supermarket chain, Takeoff is selling its end-to-end technology platform to existing retailers as a value-added service and a new way to reach customers. Knapp is providing automated fulfilment technology to Takeoff, with an exclusive agreement to develop the immediate in-store eGrocery channel.

The concept uses handling automation to assemble and deliver customer orders in micro fulfilment centres that are co-located at the supermarket level for immediate grocery pick-up. After the consumer places their order online, the order is prepared semi-automatically using Knapp technology including an OSR Shuttle store that serves goods-to-person picking stations. The consumer then either picks up their groceries via a drive-through operation at the fulfilment centre or it is delivered to their home, all in less than two hours. Alternatively, Takeoff can provide automated lockers at locations that are more convenient for customers – such as convenience stores, drugstores or fast food restaurants.

By storing the range of a traditional supermarket vertically and removing the aisles, a 90% smaller footprint can be achieved, which drives down real estate costs dramatically. Energy and payroll costs are also reduced. The modular technology from Knapp takes less space and yet offers high-speed access to all articles in order to prepare customer orders quickly.

At the heart of the fulfilment solution is Knapp’s OSR Shuttle, a proven automated storage and picking system that can process orders with over 99.9 per cent accuracy. The shuttle system for Takeoff has 22,000 storage locations within 3,500 square feet. The system can easily accommodate the inventory of a traditional supermarket, which means that Takeoff’s retail partners can offer the assortment that customers expect but using only one tenth of the space. Multiple temperature zones allow the handling of different kinds of articles including fresh produce and meat, packaged goods, delicatessen and health & beauty products. In combination with the Pick-it-Easy workstations, the powerful Streamline conveyor system and KiSoft WCS (Knapp’s warehouse control system), 1200 order lines per hour can be processed.


Knapp impressed the management of Takeoff Technologies with its proven OSR Shuttle technology, its expertise in single-item picking and its understanding of the requirements. “We believe that Knapp is definitely the best partner for us,” commented José Vicente Aguerrevere, co-founder and CEO of Takeoff Technologies. “They understood right from the beginning the concept of replicability. We need a very reliable solution that we can deploy in every store in the neighbourhoods of America. We need a very simple design with low space requirements. We met with the leadership of Knapp – here in America and in Austria – and from day one there was great chemistry and trust, which is very important for us in developing this new market. We have a very strong partnership for developing the immediate in-store grocery fulfilment channel.”

Knapp in food logistics

Knapp System integration specialises in all-in-one solutions in food and empties logistics and implements solutions of the highest quality to meet the challenges in food logistics. Central technologies include not only the high-performance OSR Shuttle system with ergonomic Pick-it-Easy workstations and the free-moving Open Shuttles for pallets but also the software KiSoft, which builds optimal sequences of supermarket articles for the fully automatic formation of pallets for delivery to store. Numerous customers in the food retail sector – including SPAR, REWE, Edeka, Migros and Auchan – trust in Knapp’s innovative technologies and solutions.