Setting The Scene

iForce was formed in 1997, merging innovative software and operational capability to create supply chain solutions for the UK retail market. In April 2017, iForce was acquired by Eddie Stobart Logistics Ltd providing access to the largest transport network in the UK, thus enabling iForce to offer a fully integrated supply chain capability to multi-channel retailers. At their new warehouse premises strategically located in Corby, Northamptonshire, iForce were looking for a system that would provide a rapid and agile order picking and replenishment solution for a large range of SKUs, typically being updated every two weeks.
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12m High Racking Structure


17,000 Bins


43 mobile robots


7 Pick stations

The Challenge

The key challenge for this project was to provide a solution with the necessary agility and throughput speeds that could handle such a quick turnaround of SKUs. The customer needed a solution that was highly flexible and expandable to ensure scalability, yet without compromising on efficiency.

The system also needed to fit within an already busy warehouse environment, without impacting existing fulfilment operations.



L-A-C’s design team analysed reams of volumetric SKU data to determine the most fitting solution for iForces requirements, and concluded that the Exotec Skypod would deliver the necessary throughput and replenishment levels for iForce’s high profile retail clients.


Exotec Skypod is a revolutionary order-picking solution using a fleet of robots, uniquely operating in the x, y and z axes, developed to help e-merchants and retailers to best utilise their available warehouse space.


The Exotec Skypod structure installed at the Corby facility, consists of high density racking on the warehouse floor, reaching to 12m in height, with a capacity for 17,000 bins. A total of 43 Skypod robots are deployed to autonomously pick items using Lidar scanners located on the front of the robot, which map the floor and navigate to the required SKU location.

To streamline the order picking process, six pick stations were installed with a further pick station used for replenishments. Albeit, in order to offer 100% flexibility any picking station be utilised for replenishment based on demand. Operators stand at each pick station, where they receive the items in the bins from the Skypod robots, and then place the picked order item(s) into a tote. The order tote is then placed on a 30-meter length of L-A-C’s automated powered roller conveyor located behind the pick stations, which transports the tote to the packing area, ready for dispatch.


The replenishment process involves an operator collecting the relevant SKU carton from racking. The replenishment SKU’s are then transported tp the Exotec replenishment station, where they decanted into an empty storage tote. Ready for the Skypod robots to replace within the Exotec racking structure, ready for the next order.

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The Benefits

The L-A-C and Exotec solution has provided iForce with a highly efficient and agile system for their fulfilment requirements, offering enhanced productivity with the robots capable of working 24/7. Comfortably facilitating the e-commerce model, the Exotec Skypod offers a maximum rate of 1082 tote presentations per hour, a level designed to manage high order volumes for peak periods. The customer is delighted with the solution as it offers them even higher throughput than they thought possible, as well as the agility to integrate additional robots should requirements change. The Skypod system supports reactive order picking with the ability to adapt the system in tight deadlines, in line with customer needs.


Furthermore, L-A-C and Exotec provide a comprehensive maintenance and support service. This includes 24/7 remote monitoring of the robots, mobile engineer support, as well as the integration of a maintenance area within the warehouse facility, providing a lift to access robots and storage of critical spare parts.


Overall, the innovative order picking solution combined with the service contract from L-A-C and Exotec, provides iForce with the peace of mind in the performance of the system, knowing that operational efficiency will not be compromised.

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Improved Scalability for Future Growth

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Increased Throughputs & Fulfilment Capacities

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Optimised Traffic, Sequencing & Picking

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99.8% System Uptime & Accuracy

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L-A-C’s team of experts are here to support you from concept to the finished system, working together to design and deliver a bespoke solution that meets your current objectives and future growth expectations, with favourable ROI. 


Across semi-automated and fully automated systems, L-A-C has the expertise and range of products to provide flexible and scalable solutions that will significantly enhance your operations and keep you agile as your business evolves. 


Join us on a pivotal journey towards a more efficient, productive, cost effective and sustainable future with L-A-C’s innovative automation technology solutions.

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