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Ocado’s warehouse had a robot crash that sparks fire, delaying customer orders

A collision of robots was reported in the online-only UK grocer Ocado’s warehouse, luckily no person was injured and the damage was limit

Ocado's warehouse had a robot crash that sparks fire, delaying customer orders

Ocado is the only UK online grocer “created by Britain”. A few hours ago, one of its warehouse robots collided with each other caused a fire that resulted in limited damage. Luckily, there was no person reported to be injured.

The warehouse is populated with robots same as the size of a washing machine to move products from one place to another in a grid system. The incident occurred when three of Ocado’s robots collided with one another at the company’s Erith warehouse east of London. Though the incident was minimal, some orders were delayed by the company.

In a statement on Sunday by Ocado, “No one was injured, and the damage was limited to less than 1 percent of its grid.” But the company has to suffer while delivering orders. There’s a huge number of orders that need to be processed. According to the reports, Ocado’s Erith plant processes about 150,000 orders a week, via Financial Times

Deliveries are unpacked into crates; crates are placed onto conveyors; and conveyors carry the crates to shelves, where human pickers take what they need to fill customers’ orders. The new paradigm, though, is all about using space as efficiently as possible. Items are still placed in crates, but those crates are now stored in huge stacks, up to 17 boxes high. Their position in this stack seems to be at random — a box of razors next to cod fillets, for example — but it’s algorithmically decided; with frequently accessed items placed on the top and rarer purchases near the bottom. On top of this hoard, the robots do their work.

James Vincent from The Verge

Meanwhile, these incidents do happen in big organizations. Ocado has great plans in future, the company plans to use driverless vehicles in its warehouses, yard and to deliver groceries to the houses without any help required from humans. Robots could carry shoppers’ groceries to their kitchen under plans being considered by online supermarket Ocado. The possibilities come after Ocado announced that it had invested £10million in autonomous ­software firm Oxbotica.

Ocado about the pending orders stated,

“While we expect some disruption to operations, we are working to restore normal service as soon as possible,”

“We expect the facility to begin operating within the coming week and thank customers whose orders are affected for their patience.”

Ocado said it would use the Oxford firm’s technology in a “variety of vehicles”, from those in its warehouses and yards “all the way to last-mile deliveries and curb-to-kitchen robots”. The two firms worked on a trial in 2017 that led to Ocado launching the UK’s first autonomous grocery delivery trial in South East London.

These incidents often happen in big organizations. Now, well the damage has been done, should restart operations in the next few days. Till then, consumers are requested to have patience for their pending orders.

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Written by Hammad Khalid

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