Kenco Logistics Opens 10,000 Square Foot Innovation Lab

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Kenco logistics in Chattanooga is opening what’s called a “Supply Chain Innovation Lab”. It plans to develop and test various technologies to increase efficiencies in logistics.

The technology center is new and Kenco of Chattanooa had a ribbon cutting for its new 10-thousand square foot test facility. Working from the headquarters on Riverside Drive, the goal is to assess value-added technologies. That means robotics and new software, especially warehouse fulfillment robots.

“In an e-commerce environment, typically a person is walking six to fourteen miles a day, pushing a cart, and moving totes and bags and stuff, we eliminate the majority of that. So the pickers just grab and drop, and the robots do all the transportation,” said Chris Russell, Vice President of Marketing, for NextShift Robotics.

Will that technology soon replace warehouse fulfillment workers?

“In the e-commerce world right now there are not enough people to fill the jobs. Right? And it costs them money not just to have the people but also to train them, to bring them up to speed, it’s a very inefficient process, so we can eliminate some of that labor shortage,” said Russell.

Some of the technologies are “born” right here in Chattanooga. Students from the STEM School helped to develop programs to avoid delays for trucks at docks. They also came up with sensors to help forklifts avoid warehouse accidents.

“We took their three team’s ideas and created the best possible solution, and put it out to the field for our customers and it’s generated about a half million dollars in savings for them,” said Kristi Montgomery, Vice President of Innovation at Kenco.

Kenco CEO Denis Reilly says these technological advances are needed to help with the labor shortage.

“The different competitors, as well as the different companies in the logistics industry are trying to find ways to make their operation efficient, you know they got labor issues, low unemployment, hard to find warehouse workers, so you’re trying to find ways to still drive efficiencies, and a lot of it is through this technology,” said Denis Reilly, CEO of Kenco.

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