Technology Fills New Canadian Fulfillment Centres

By: Lee Rickwood

August 10, 2022

Technology may one day be able to fulfill all our needs, but one Canadian company is dedicated to seeing that technology can fulfill our orders now.

In this case, fulfilling our orders means the order fulfillment process, and all those steps that a business must take from the moment it gets a product order to the time it’s delivered to the customer.

Toronto-based fulfillment company Darwynn recently announced its closing of a $20-million pre-seed investment it will use to develop a technology-driven fulfillment process for Canadian retailers, brands and business owners of all shapes and sizes.

“This initial round of financing is an important stepping stone for us as we build our offering alongside our partners while also solidifying our positioning and capabilities in our core markets,” said Wynn Xie, President of Darwynn.

While many e-commerce companies depend on larger companies like Amazon for their fulfillment needs, Darwynn says its goal is to “democratize the Canadian supply chain” and make fulfillment easier for online retailers by developing a national fulfillment infrastructure that gives companies of all sizes − with one order to fulfill or a million, the company touts − a competitive edge that’s no longer only available to Fortune 500 companies.

blue container box on fulfillment centre rail system

Automated fulfillment centres and supply chain software tools have been out of reach for many small and medium-sized enterprises; a Canadian company wants to change that picture. Images courtesy Darwynn Ltd.

Combining warehouse and transportation management system software that tracks product movement in the supply chain with robotic shuttles on rails moving among automated high-density racking, its high-capacity fulfillment centres provide an actionable data flow and fulfillment process designed to give smaller operators the ability to streamline internal operations and grow their businesses.

That’s not always been the case, says Darwynn CEO Reza Bafandeh, who has learned from his many years in the industry (he’s a former operations manager at Amazon).

“Over the past decade and especially in the last few years,” he described in an e-mail exchange with WhatsYourTech.ca, “consumer expectation and market offerings have both grown significantly while the supply chain and fulfillment remained the same, with the exception of select industry leaders. Now, brands and retailers are bound to these providers by default, leading to a loss of control over their data and outrageous pricing for basic services.

“Our goal at Darwynn is to create the most innovative and multifaceted platform that allows these brands and retailers of all sizes to compete. We allow businesses to pool their resources with our end-to-end fulfillment system in order to capitalize on system efficiencies that meet and exceed customer demand.”

The opportunity for innovation in the Canadian fulfillment marketplace through the use of data and automation is immense, says Bafandeh.

blue container box moves on rail system

Inside Darwynn’s facilities, robotic shuttles travel independently in a high-capacity dynamic storage environment, riding on narrow rails from storage level to storage level.

Darwynn and its partners are operating fulfillment centres across Canada, each with a footprint ten of thousands of square feet, fully capable of some 92,000 orders per day now with an anticipated capacity of 185,000 per day by 2025.

Inside these facilities, robotic shuttles travel independently in a high-capacity dynamic storage environment, riding on narrow rails from storage level to storage level. They retrieve stored inventory items at high speeds, reaching 200 to 700 lines per hour while carrying boxes, totes or trays for product loads of up to 110 lb (50 kg). Product identifiers and codes are scanned and read by sensor- or lens-equipped robots; reporting software tracks the entire fulfillment process in real-time.

product scanner video lens and blue product box

Product identifiers and codes are scanned and read by sensor- or lens-equipped robots; reporting software tracks the entire fulfillment process in real-time.

The modular, scalable systems can be expanded as business needs change, Darwyyn describes, with minimal structural modifications.

Online retailers can ship their inventory direct to these sophisticated fulfillment centres (like Darwynn’s, often protected by cyber security and well as physical security solutions) where consumer-bound purchases are picked, packed and shipped by automated load handling devices, making the process more efficient and inexpensive.

With its pre-seed money fuelling plans to use data and automation to transform the Canadian fulfillment marketplace, Darwynn is a unique evolution in an emerging micro-fulfillment strategy, one that positions leading-edge warehouse facilities in densely populated urban locations as the best way to fulfill the needs of the customer and the retailer.

“Our vision is to be the world’s most seller-centric company, providing a platform that gives complete control and visibility to brands and retailers,” Bafandeh said.

 

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point of view inside an automated product retrieval system

Autonomous robots, carton shuttles on rails, picking technologies, automated storage and retrieval systems, warehouse management software and more are tools of the new fulfillment centre.

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