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Robotics in retail – shelf automation with POS-T Technology

Robotics in retail – shelf automation with POS-T Technology © EHI Retail Institute 2017

Trade is change –this holds true more than ever before. The online channel exerts pressure on stationary trade. Stationary trade has exactly two competitive advantages when compared with online trade: (hopefully) immediate product availability and (hopefully) expert personnel.


Robotics along the value chain increase the profitability, the quality and the speed of the trade processes so that the shopper can purchase his or her product at the best price at the desired place at any time. Robotics is the interaction of machines with the real world. For this interaction, the robots need cognitive abilities that can be depicted by sensors and kinetic skills, which can be realised by electro-mechanical components, or actuators.

Robotics within the context of retail trade encompasses the deployment of technology with the purpose of automating recurring processes in daily trade. This includes, in particular, all processes within the supply chain as well as the processes in the branch. The automation of recurring processes such as picking and packing in the central warehouse, stacking/packing, supplying the branch (autonomous delivery vehicles), goods receipt, and replenishment, presupposes that the necessary basic data (which goods in which quantity at which time at which location) is available in high quality. Today this data is mainly obtained from the checkout data of the connected branches as well as from the computed prognoses. Loss, spoilage, goods excesses, incorrectly stored goods and incorrectly charged goods result in the foundation for auto disposition – meaning the automatic establishment of the goods to be ordered – not being able to deliver an optimal result.

POS TUNING offers automation and sensor solutions to digitalise the branch processes so that the dealer can focus on the shopper. The POS-T goods pushfeeds, which can be installed in all existing trade shelves, automatically push the remaining product to the front of the shelf after removal, into the best sight and grabbing field. The patented forward-pushing technology works for numerous product ranges, even in the frozen food cabinets and chest freezers where the pushfeed ensures a consistent product image, even with low stocks. The POS-T Stock Beacons are universal stock sensors that can (also subsequently) be stuck onto all POS-T pushfeeds. Triggered by the movement of the goods being pushed, the Stock Beacon establishes the current product inventory and conveys this to freely configured subscribers via Internet technologies. These can be other systems (e.g. merchandise management systems, order picking robots, etc.) or employees for whom this information is relevant. POS TUNING turns every shelf into an intelligent shelf, so that the shopper can find his or her desired product in sufficient quantities at the expected location at all times.

Robotics for Retail (R4R) – an initiative of EHI in cooperation with 15 partners – wants to think ahead and actively shape the future regarding the development and introduction of automation and robotics solutions in trade. POS TUNING is a part of this as a partner. A detailed description of the initiative can be found on the central website www.robotics4retail.de. The first results of the R4R initiative will be presented at the Robotics4Retail conference in Cologne on 26/27 September.

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