Case Study

Capacity Warehouse Thrives During Demand Challenges Despite Labor Shortage

Upon the successful integration and deployment of the first station, running at up to 515 PPH with less than 0.1% of orders requiring human intervention, Capacity and Covariant are in the process of deploying additional AI Robotic Putwall stations.

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After two years of testing a different robotic putwall, it became clear that the station would never meet the benchmark metrics required for financial viability. We were hesitant to try another, but Covariant designed and delivered a solution that was actually intelligent and could perform autonomously in real life.
Thom Campbell
Chief Strategy Officer, Capacity
Industry: Logistics Provider, Health and Beauty
Location: New Jersey, USA

About Capacity

Capacity, a forward-thinking third-party logistics firm with expertise in Health and Beauty products, was seeking new ways to improve their warehouse throughput. The combination of unpredictable spikes in demand with limited staff availability was decreasing the 3PL company’s efficiency. The operations team had experimented with a robotic automation solution for order sortation earlier that year but it had been unsuccessful.

Prior Challenges at the Capacity Warehouse

“After two years of testing a different robotic putwall, it became clear the station would never meet the benchmark metrics required for financial viability,” shared Thom Campbell, Chief Strategy Officer of Capacity. “The team was skeptical that these next-generation automation solutions were ready for the real world.” 

After meeting Covariant at an industry event, the Capacity team was cautiously optimistic about trying another robotic order sortation solution. “We embrace innovation at Capacity and pride ourselves on being early adopters,” Campbell continued. “We were hesitant to try another robotics vendor but Covariant’s deep bench of AI talent described a robotics solution that was actually intelligent and could be autonomous in real life. We had to try it.”

Superior Performance with Untested Data

To begin the vendor assessment, the Capacity team mailed Covariant a variety of products to pick and place in a putwall. Health and Beauty products tend to be small, irregularly shaped, and often encased in transparent plastic packaging. The combination of size, shape, and packaging is often a challenge for computer vision to accurately pick. The Covariant Brain leverages AI to specifically address these challenges and enable robots to successfully handle a virtually infinite variety of objects. Based on original research, the

Covariant team followed a standardized unbiased assessment for demonstrating their technology’s value. [To download the assessment for free, visit here.]

“Watching the uncut recording of the Covariant robot successfully picking and placing brand-new items it had never encountered was when I started to get excited about the possibilities of AI-powered robotics and its superior learning abilities,” shared Campbell. “The market is getting noisier and it can be hard to tell what is just hype. The Covariant Brain is the real deal.” 

After completing the initial test, Capacity also required Covariant to demonstrate the robot’s ability to accurately scan SKUs -- another important requirement of the putwall application. Covariant again demonstrated success with industry-leading accuracy.

Easy integration and installation 

The Covariant team partnered with Capacity to integrate with the systems and processes without needing to overhaul the materials handling workflow and floorplan. Covariant’s AI robotic putwall station (consisting of the Covariant Brain, robot arm, conveyors, scanners, and vision system) was customized to meet Capacity’s unique operational settings resulting in value on Day 1. 

“Covariant’s solution team not only had the technical expertise but also a collaborative approach,” said Ed Shapiro, Director of Engineering at Capacity. “The collective mindset of our teams ensured a successful deployment and continuing success.”

Increased throughput without compromising accuracy

Now with the ability to run up to 16 hours a day (or two shifts), Capacity has adopted the Covariant robot as one of its own and even nicknamed it Waldo. With an operations team that’s human and machine, the warehouse’s productivity is at an all-time high while also remaining cost-effective. 

Upon the successful integration and deployment of the first station, running at up to 515 PPH with less than 0.1% of orders requiring human intervention, Capacity and Covariant are in the process of deploying additional robotic putwall stations.

“Modern Materials Handling named the Covariant AI Robotic Putwall as a Product of the Year for a good reason. With Covariant, we’re confident for whatever the future may bring in terms of order volume. That peace of mind is invaluable,” concluded Campbell.

  • Speed - Reaches a peak speed of 515 items per hour, depending on order flow. Traditional labor picks at 450 items per hour during peak. 

  • Accuracy - Less than 0.1% of orders required human intervention even as it continues to learn new objects each week.

  • Expansion - Deploying additional stations to further increase efficiency and throughput.

Industry: Logistics Provider, Health and Beauty
Location: New Jersey, USA

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