First Supply Teams with Exotec on Robotics at Wisconsin DC - Modern Distribution Management

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First Supply Teams with Exotec on Robotics at Wisconsin DC

The distributor's Skypod system will consist of over 43,000 storage bins, 36 robots, three picking stations and three induction workstations.
First Supply trucks

Midwest-based First Supply — a distributor of HVAC, builder, plumbing, lighting, waterworks, PVF, pump, well and septic supplies — is enhancing its warehouse robotics through a new partnership.

Global warehouse robotics provider Exotec announced May 21 that the distributor has partnered with it to install warehouse robotics at the company’s new 308,000-square-foot distribution center in La Crosse, WI.

A news release detailed First Supply plans to use Exotec’s Skypod robotic automation solution to improve productivity, optimize resource utilization and ultimately better serve customers.

First Supply’s Skypod system will consist of over 43,000 storage bins, 36 robots, three picking stations and three induction workstations. 

Anticipating continuous growth, First Supply designed its new distribution center to easily scale its storage capacity by up to 30% in the system by adding bins and robots, the release noted. The system will make use of Exotec’s smart conveying technology, Skypath, to feed six packing stations and a sortation loop with 12 outbound destination lanes. The distribution center will support all of the company’s branch locations in the Upper Midwest, as well as supply direct-to-customer deliveries.

“As a 127-year-old, 5th generation company, First Supply is committed to innovating how our employees experience work daily. Our rich history has laid the groundwork for success in distributing innovation and fostering partnerships in our communities, with our customers, and among our partners,” says Katie Poehling Seymour, President & CEO at First Supply. “We’re transforming our supply chain, focusing on optimizing inventory management through enhanced technology and refined procedures, exemplified by our new distribution center.”

Exotec added that First Supply is among the first U.S. companies in their industry to adopt the Atlanta-based company’s robotics solutions for their warehouse.

First Supply — with parent company First Companies — has 52 locations across the U.S. Midwest, which include 28 First Supply distribution branches, five First Waterworks branches, 1 Central Distribution Center, 14 Gerhard’s Kitchen, Bath and Lighting stores and 4 Kohler Signature Stores by First Supply.  Family-owned and operated First Companies has over 650 employees.

First Supply was profiled in a September 2023 MDM Spotlight feature.

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