Swedish furniture retailer Ikea is using autonomous drones in its own warehouses to help with inventory. In Germany, too, the yellow-and-blue helpers fly fully automatically through the skies and check inventories after closing time.
Ikea drones help with inventory
There should be quite a few packages in Ikea’s warehouses. After all, the Swedes’ furniture is usually made up of several boxes. To help with inventory, the chain relies on fully automated drones that check the stock after closing time and see how much of which product is currently still available.
A total of 100 of these Ikea drones are currently in use, including in Germany. Ingka, operator of various Ikea stores, has now introduced the autonomous counting drones from manufacturer Verity in a blog post.
This makes it the first retailer to carry out such autonomous inventory, it adds. The first drone was deployed in Switzerland in 2021, and there are now 100 of the flying helpers in 16 different locations in Belgium, Croatia, the Netherlands and even Germany.
After the gates of a corresponding Ikea store close, the drones get to work on their own, counting and scanning the pallets and returning to their charging station fully automatically.
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Benefits for customers and employees
“We are investing in various technological areas,” reveals Tolga Öncu, Head of Retail at Ingka Group (IKEA). In addition to drones, robots are also being used to pick up and transport parcels and furniture, Öncu adds.
In doing so, the technical helpers would not only improve the well-being of the company’s own employees, but also reduce operating costs at the same time – which, according to Öncu, would in turn be beneficial for the end customers, as they could be offered more affordable prices and a more convenient experience.
The drones were first tested in 2020 and have since been continuously refined by manufacturer Verity so that they can now operate fully autonomously.