S&S Activewear uses Korber software, Geek+ robots to boost warehouse efficiency

S&S Activewear has deployed robots from Geek+ and software from Korber.
S&S Activewear has deployed robots from Geek+ and software from Körber. Source: Körber Supply Chain.

Smart retailers are working with select technology partners to optimize their operations. S&S Activewear today announced the expansion of its partnership with Körber Supply Chain.

The apparel distributor has also deployed robots from Geekplus Technology Co. at three warehouse sites across the Americas. S&S Activewear said the collaboration enables it to optimize on-site staff, order quality, and delivery efficiencies to meet the surging demands of a rapidly evolving market.

“Innovation is a core tenet of S&S’s decades-long history in the apparel industry,” stated Brian Beale, chief technology officer of S&S. “Advancing our warehouse operations with Körber and Geek+’s robotics and automation expertise has been a natural and impactful evolution in our technology journey.”

“Our customers deserve a seamless experience, from order to fulfillment, and we’re excited about the increased efficiencies we’re already seeing through our collaboration with Körber,” he added.

Founded in 1988, S&S Activewear is a leading technology-enabled distributor of apparel and accessories in the U.S. and Canada. The Bolingbrook, Ill.-based company offers more than 80 brands, from basic garments to fashion-forward styles, with over 4 million sq. ft. of warehouse space across North America.

S&S said it serves a broad range of customers through its nationwide network, including retail brands, e-commerce companies, garment decorators, and promotional products distributors. It also serves entertainment merchandisers, lifestyle brands, and Web-based platforms for apparel customization.

S&S commits to innovation with Körber

The partnership began with the deployment of 340 Geek+ robots at a single 750,000 sq. ft. (69,677.2 sq. m) S&S Activewear site in Lockport, Ill. Körber said it marked the largest collaboration in its robotics portfolio to date.

“This signifies a major commitment to pioneering solutions within the apparel industry,” said the partners.

“Warehouse solutions are a core area of Körber’s expertise, and we look forward to expanding our partnership with S&S,” said Sean Elliott, CTO and acting CEO for software at Körber Supply Chain. “Our robotics offerings are designed to scale with the speed and size of business, optimizing warehouse operations so organizations can focus on value-driven activities to support the larger overall goals.”

A key aspect of this expansion is the implementation of Geek+’s PopPick systems. These robots, which won an RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award, efficiently move inventory stored in totes to pick stations, said Geek+. The system incorporates autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and the slotting of inventory to facilitate product flow within the warehouse.

Körber said its systems and services can help users manage increasingly complex supply chain operations for a competitive advantage. The unit of Hamburg, Germany-based Körber AG said it can help businesses of any size with its portfolio of software, voice, and robotics systems as well as the expertise to tie it all together.

Körber recently recognized S&S Activewear for its outstanding achievements in Facility Optimization with a Customer Award at the 2024 Elevate Conference.

Geek+ robots support e-commerce efforts

Since the inception of the partnership, S&S Activewear has reported significant successes. The Geek+ system was designed to support more than 4,500 lines per hour through 24 picking stations. It has effectively enhanced speed and efficiency in warehouse operations, order fulfillment, and quality assurance, said S&S.

“Our longstanding partnership with Körber has been crucial in bringing our revolutionary solutions to a wider audience,” said Randy Randolph, director of channel partner sales at Geek+. “This deployment with S&S highlights the huge impact of our mobile robots in helping retailers meet the crush of e-commerce orders while improving quality and efficiency.”

Geekplus said it is a global leader in mobile robots for order fulfillment. More than 1,000 customers use its automation for flexible, reliable, and efficient warehouse and supply chain management. Founded in 2015, the company has offices in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Japan, South Korea, China, and Singapore.

Written by

Eugene Demaitre

Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of the robotics group at WTWH Media. He was senior editor of The Robot Report from 2019 to 2020 and editorial director of Robotics 24/7 from 2020 to 2023. Prior to working at WTWH Media, Demaitre was an editor at BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, TechTarget, and Robotics Business Review.

Demaitre has participated in robotics webcasts, podcasts, and conferences worldwide. He has a master's from the George Washington University and lives in the Boston area.