Kiva’s Robots Serve Smaller Companies at Andover’s Quiet Logistics

Visiting a warehouse equipped with Kiva Systems‘ robotic fulfillment technology is a spooky experience: the little orange robots scoot about in busy silence, toting shelves full of products to human pickers who move the right products into boxes for shipping. There are no grinding, beeping forklifts, and not even much conversation, since there are so few human workers. So it makes sense that the first company to specialize in outsourced fulfillment services using Kiva’s technology would be called Quiet Logistics.

The startup announced today that it has installed a Kiva fulfillment system at its Andover, MA, site and that the so-called “QuietCenter” is already handling orders for Massapequa, NY-based Internet retailer Music Parts Plus.

The Andover center is envisioned as just the first in a network of automated warehouses, each of which would handle fulfillment for multiple customers. The buzzword for this practice in the warehousing industry is “third-party logistics,” or 3PL, and it’s similar in spirit to the multi-tenant architecture offered by Software-as-a-Service companies such as But Quiet Logistics is the first 3PL company to use Kiva’s technology.

“We’re excited to see Quiet Logistics delivering on its vision,” Kiva CEO Mick Mountz said in today’s announcement. “Their 3PL multi-tenant model is the perfect platform for bringing the value of Kiva Systems material handling to customers who rely on best of breed service partners.”

Quiet Logistics said the online catalog at Music Parts Plus—a playground for guitar aficionados—contains over 5,000 separate products, from picks to lubricants. The company was growing so fast it could no longer manage its inventory efficiently, yet it’s too small to afford its own Kiva setup. So it turned to Quiet Logistics.

“Companies like Music Parts Plus want and need to focus their time and resource on their core capabilities such as merchandising and marketing,” Bruce Welty, Quiet Logistics’s CEO, said in the announcement. “We deliver the service they need to fulfill a customer’s order and expectations. We operate in the background rapidly, efficiently, accurately and above all quietly.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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