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19th August 2022

Active Ants: The first to run a UK automated e-commerce hub?

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E-commerce specialist Active Ants are about to open its first UK facility in Northampton on 5th September 2022. It will be the fifth fulfilment centre in the Active Ants network, working alongside operations in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Background of Active Ants

Founded in 2010, Active Ants is intended to make e-fulfilment more accurate and efficient with automated robot technology. Active Ants has since grown into one of the largest competitors in the Netherlands, having over 250 consumers processing five million orders a year.

The co-founder and managing partner of Active Ants, Jeroen Dekker, said “we are delighted that our arrival in the UK will further increase our presence in Europe.”

Location of the hub

The property for the new hub is owned by M&G Real Estate, an investment company. The warehouse is located on Northampton’s Brackmills Industrial Estate; a strategic area for e-commerce logistics in the UK. Dekker stated, “The ‘outstanding’ BREEAM certification of the Brackmills Estate means that the building performs at the highest environmental level.”

How the technology works

AutoStore technology will be fundamental for the new hub, with automated robots moving across a network of rails to store and collect goods from a group of compact bins. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) bring empty boxes to employees, who fill them with goods delivered by the storage robots. 

Packing machines then select the best-sized boxes and close them to size. The machines weigh the boxes and sticks on an appropriate shipping label so that no extra padding inside is required. Resultantly, Active Ants transports an average of 40% less air to the customer. When the boxes are filled, closed and printed, the carrier robots pick up the parcels and organise them for their respective carriers.

To find out more about how automation is being used in other industries, read this article.