Automating the world’s warehouses to reduce costs

Using an innovative automated warehousing system designed to increase storage capacity and reduce labour costs, Monaghan startup Moffett Automated Storage has just completed its first international project in Dubai.

Automating the world’s warehouses to reduce costs

Using an innovative automated warehousing system designed to increase storage capacity and reduce labour costs, Monaghan startup Moffett Automated Storage has just completed its first international project in Dubai.

Founder Sam Moffett said they are the first Irish company to design a warehouse automation solution and are now planning to develop global sales starting with the US, Benelux, and Scandinavia.

“The future for moving pallets in warehouses is in automation,” said Mr Moffett, who hopes to emulate his father Robert Moffett who co-founded Combilift, a Monaghan-based manufacturer of multidirectional forklifts which now sells to 85 companies globally.

While working at Combilift, Sam Moffett observed the rise of automation in warehousing where it is used to optimise the use of space and to reduce labour requirements.

“I saw a window of opportunity for a new company which could create an efficient automated warehousing system,” he said.

Using family funding, he set up Moffett Automated Storage (MAS) company in late 2017.

Taking on a design engineer and an automation engineer, the company set to work on developing a new system, building its first customer system for a third-party logistics company in Dublin in early 2019.

“Used for food storage, this system holds 3,500 pallet spaces and provides a 66% storage density increase,” said Mr Moffett, explaining that the MAS Automated Storage and Retrieval System uses four directional shuttles for efficient pallet handling.

According to Mr Moffett, this system can significantly reduce warehouse labour costs.

“It can, for example, be used in a warehouse with a staff of 15 to reduce the staff number to just three,” he said.

Setting out to compete against German and Italian automated storage solution companies in the international market, Mr Moffett says the MAS system has a competitive edge because of its flexibility and scalability, and the fact that it can be used to retrofit existing warehouses as well as to fit out new ones.

With the completion of this first successful project last year, MAS began to target both third-party logistic companies operating distribution hubs, and also manufacturing companies with large-scale operations. It can be used for fast-moving consumer goods as well as food, said Mr Moffett.

MAS’s first international project involved building a system for a three-storey 30m-metre high building with a throughput of 85 pallets per hours.

“It had to be designed to withstand the extreme heat in Dubai, working in temperature above 50 degrees, and installation was challenging.”

Mr Moffett says that there is not yet a high level of automated storage in Ireland, but that these type of systems are now widely used by in the US and Nordic countries by large organisations operating huge facilities.

It is a multi-billion euro industry in which he sees vast opportunities for MAS.

Currently employing a staff of 11 at its premises in Clontibret, the company has been supported by Enterprise Ireland, which has provided assistance in developing exports.

“With Enterprise Ireland assistance we are now working on several new projects. We are in discussions with manufacturers and third-party logistics companies in both the US and Benelux and, by the end of 2020, expect to have installed our system in three or four systems in these markets.”

As part of its plans to grow the business, Mr Moffett expects to hire an additional eight staff by the end of the year.

“We will also be working on creating brand awareness for the company, working through dealerships and advertising on social media.”

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