- PepsiCo is partnering with startup KoiReader Technologies to improve operational efficiency and accuracy in its distribution centers using AI, according to a March 15 release.
- The food and beverage giant is deploying an advanced machine-vision solution that reads warehouse labels and barcodes more efficiently to increase throughput at its distribution centers.
- KoiReader’s technology is already operating at a PepsiCo distribution center in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the release says, with broader deployment planned for later this year.
KoiReader’s technology can identify and track barcodes and labels of any size or angle in fast-moving environments, like a conveyor belt, or even labels that have been partially damaged, Ashutosh Prasad, founder and CEO of KoiReader, told Supply Chain Dive in an interview.
The technology also tracks regular or irregularly shaped products, with or without labels, and counts how long it takes employees to pack boxes and retrieve items.
“Nothing moves in [the] supply chain without a label,” Prasad said. “You have products with labels, which are regular shaped, and you can scan them. Second, [you have] products [like] Red Bull which has a label on it, but you cannot scan because it's a case of six. Or you lose inventory when you’re doing partial picking from pallets.”
In the end, it’s all about reducing costs, Prasad said. “If you are running conveyor belt scans, and your label scanning tech is not accurate … you will have to deploy people to constantly deal with exceptions.”
The technology is also “being investigated to assist warehouse workers as they scan pallets of soda and snacks,” and has also been deployed to automate yard operations as tractors and trailers enter and exit PepsiCo’s distribution center in Texas, according to the release.
The application will eventually be expanded to validate customer deliveries to ensure 100% accuracy of human-assisted picking operations, according to the release.
KoiReader initially started working with PepsiCo in 2021 and since then has slowly expanded into different applications, Prasad said.
PepsiCo joins the wider industry push toward warehouse automation as companies look to optimize their distribution processes. Last year, Maersk began a pilot with robotics company BionicHIVE on an automated solution that sorts, selects and puts away packages. This isn’t the first time the ocean carrier looked to strengthen its inventory management efforts. Maersk also announced a partnership with Verity in January to use autonomous drones to track inventory.
United Natural Foods, Inc. also rolled out new scanning technology to one of its distribution centers in Washington in March. Meanwhile, China-based e-commerce giant JD.com recently opened its third self-operating warehouse in California.