JD.com Begins Tests of Its First Fully-Automated Sorting Center

JD.com, China’s largest retailer, is testing its first fully-automated sorting center operated exclusively by robots and machinery.

JD.com Begins Tests of Its First Fully-Automated Sorting Center

JD.com, China’s largest retailer, is testing its first fully-automated sorting center operated exclusively by robots and machinery.

Located in Kunshan, in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province, the sorting center receives and sorts packages to be shipped off to local delivery stations. As JD.com’s customer base grows beyond its current 258.3 million users, the highly-efficient automated sorting facility will help the company continue to fulfill its promise of same- and next-day delivery to most of China’s population.

Once packages are taken off trucks at one side of the Kunshan facility, they’re loaded onto a complex network of automated machinery, where fast-moving, automated conveyors zip each box around. Image scanners can check the packages in microseconds, while JD’s smart logistics system calculates where the packages should be dropped off. The packages are grouped by region into large bins, which are picked up by driverless forklifts and brought to the corresponding truck for delivery to the right destination.

Spanning 8,000 square meters, the facility handles up to 9,000 orders per hour, something that would normally take 180 warehouse workers to accomplish.

“At the rate that e-commerce is growing in China and around the world, robotics and automation will be a necessary solution to meet that explosion in demand,” said Zhenhui Wang, CEO of JD Logistics. “We are investing in this advanced technology, and other automation throughout our supply chain, with an eye on the long-term.”

As part of that investment, JD is on track to quadruple the size of its Silicon Valley research and development center this year to 120 people.

With nationwide coverage and in-house logistics capabilities from fulfillment down to last-mile delivery, JD.com has the most advanced retail operation in the world. It operates China’s largest nationwide delivery network, with the ability to delivery on the same day as an order is placed, or the next day, to a population of over a billion.

JD was also the first large-scale e-commerce company in the world to deploy delivery drones. The company is also already running commercial tests of driverless delivery vehicles on college campuses.

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