Ikea Expands Stock-Counting Drones to More Stores

Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant, has recently announced that it has expanded its use of drones to improve the accuracy of its inventory. Ingka, the legal entity responsible for most of Ikea’s stores, shared in a blog post last week that it now has a total of 100 autonomous drones counting stock in its warehouses during non-operational hours. The drones help save employees from manually counting stock and support a more ergonomic workplace.

Ikea first partnered with the drone-making company Verity in 2020 to deploy the drones in Switzerland. However, the company has now expanded its use of drones to 16 locations across Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Verity specializes in creating self-flying drones for warehouses and concerts and was founded by Raffaello D’Andrea, one of the creators of Kiva Systems, now called Amazon Robotics.

The drones work by taking off from a charging station and going to each pallet in the warehouse to capture images, videos, and 3D depth scans of the items. Once the drones complete their job, they return to their charging stations to download the collected data. In addition to counting inventory, the drones can help employees determine if something is missing or in the wrong spot.

Ikea has also implemented other high-tech solutions to streamline its work in its warehouses. For example, in its Covina, California store, Ikea employs an automated racking system that has eliminated the majority of forklifts, which helps keep more items in stock. Additionally, Ikea has experimented with an automated warehouse in Croatia, where small radio-controlled robots retrieve bins containing the company’s products and deliver them to employees during order fulfillment.

According to Tolga Öncu, the head of retail at Ingka Group, “Introducing drones and other advanced tools, such as robots for picking up goods, is a genuine win-win for everybody. It improves our co-workers’ wellbeing, lowers operational costs, and allows us to become more affordable and convenient for our customers.”

The use of drones in inventory management is a prime example of the benefits of integrating technology into traditional business processes. By using drones, Ikea is not only able to reduce manual labor and increase accuracy but also streamline its operations and provide better customer experiences. The company’s use of drones in its warehouses is a testament to its commitment to innovation and improving its business processes.