Bodybuilding.com Flexes Fulfillment Muscles with Chuck
Leading fitness and nutrition retailer turns to 6 River Systems' software and robotics solutions to manage 100% of order volume across their United States distribution network.
at a glance:
- Labor: training + retention
- Seasonal spikes
- Space utilization
- 100% of order volume fulfilled with Chuck
- Integration with homegrown WMS
- 135% pick rate improvement
- Training reduced from four weeks to one day
- Travel reduced 50%
Bodybuilding.com, founded in 1999, is the world's largest online retailer of sports nutrition supplements. They offer 13,500+ sports nutrition and fitness products, and manage a robust fitness community and content program that provides value to more than 35 million people every month. As people are spending more time at home, interest in personal fitness has taken off, leading Bodybuilding.com's business to grow significantly.
In 2019, the company introduced Chucks across their two US distribution centers, replacing a manual picking process and enabling the team to rethink the workflow of their fulfillment operation.
Bodybuilding.com was using manual carts and paper pick lists to fulfill orders, which led to accuracy issues, a highly physical and inefficient workflow, and long training cycles (3-4 weeks). In addition, the orders were picked to totes and put on a conveyor to pack out stations, leading to increased labor costs and longer lead times. Being a customer-first company, Bodybuilding.com has built a culture around exceeding customer expectations.
To do that, the supply chain team sought a solution to get the right orders out the door faster, and into customer hands sooner.
- Improve productivity and order accuracy
- Scalable to meet demand changes and increases
- Cut down on non-value added processes
- Reduce training time for new and seasonal employees
- Improve employee retention, by improving employee experience
"We’ve had people that have had opportunities on the horizon to leave, and they are staying because they are excited about Chuck. They want to be a part of this robotics solution."
Robert Shields, Director of FC Operations, Bodybuilding.com
Enter 6 River Systems
When it came to selecting the right solution for their operation, Bodybuilding.com knew that they needed to find the right balance of productivity, fulfillment flexibility and capabilities and employee safety.
Bodybuilding.com replaced its manual cart picking process with 6 River Systems' (6RS) collaborative autonomous robots, called Chucks. Today, the 6RS Solution is used to fulfill 100% of Bodybuilding.com's orders between their Nevada and Pennsylvania distribution centers.
improvement in pick rate
of training, for new employees to reach target performance goals
reduction in travel
Operational Efficiency Gains
Bodybuilding.com reduced in-aisle walking by 50% and improved pick rate by 135%. By moving from a manual, paper pick process; to one that involves hands-free scanning and pick validation on Chuck, the team saw accuracy improvements across both new and existing employees.
Additional productivity gains were seen from 6 River Systems' inventory slotting suggestions (i.e. creation of 'hot aisles') and moving from 'paper pick to tote' to 'direct to pick to shipping container.' Picking directly to a shipping container allowed Bodybuilding to reduce labor costs, significantly increase the speed in which orders could be processed, and free up valuable space previously reserved for the conveyor.
Solving the Labor Challenge
Training time for new associates to reach target performance decreased from three to four weeks to one day. Chuck eliminated non-value added walking through autonomous travel to and from induct, active picking and takeoff areas. Bodybuilding.com saw additional reduction in fatigue and an increase in employee retention, as associates no longer had to push or pull manual carts and pick path optimization reduced in-aisle walking.
A Solution that Supports a Flexible, Agile Supply Chain
In April of 2020, Bodybuilding.com saw record volumes, shipping over 500,000 units across their Nevada and Pennsylvania distribution centers. In addition to increased orders, they also saw shifts in demand across new product categories and increases in order sizes.
During this time Bodybuilding.com had to turn to a contingency staffing model. In order to maintain fulfillment capabilities, in the midst of all the staffing challenges, the reduction in training time and improved accuracy became especially important.
Bodybuilding.com knows that the landscape of eCommerce and fulfillment is forever changing, and so it is important now, more than ever, to build supply chains that can stay competitive while adapting to meet changing demands.
“This last year exposed a lot of vulnerabilities and highlighted the importance of contingency planning and business agility. The customer isn’t any less forgiving. They still want fast shipping and order accuracy.”
Rob Shields, Director of Supply Chain, Bodybuilding.com