What if every item in your warehouse could walk and talk on its own? The products could come to the operator when needed. Any item, any where, any time. I had the opportunity to view the Kiva Mobile Fulfillment System (MFS) in person at the 2009 ProMat Show at the McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

Kiva uses a simple set of equipment and powerful control software to provide a complete fulfillment solution: storing, moving and sorting inventory. Instead of being stored in static shelving, flow racks or carousels, products are stored in inventory pods in the center of the warehouse while operators stand at inventory stations around the perimeter. When an order is received, robotic drive units retrieve the appropriate pods and bring them to the worker, who picks out the appropriate item and places it in the carton. Completed orders are stored on separate pods, ready to get up and move to the loading dock when the truck arrives.

Why Kiva?

Increase Productivity – Triple the output per worker over other solutions.

Lower Cost – The Kiva MFS has lower installation and operational costs than traditional automated systems.

Increase Flexibility – The Kiva MFS adapts to changes in product types, product velocities, order prioritization, and other operational realities.

Improve Worker Safety – Work injuries can be costly. Customers tell us the Kiva solution reduces worker fatigue and results in less injuries to order selectors because bending and stretching at the pick stations is limited and the amount of walking required is minimal.

Boost Order Accuracy – Pick-to-light, barcode scanning and a quiet work environment combined with a process that enables individual selectors to pick complete orders delivers world-class order accuracy

Add Capacity Quickly – Because it is based around one simple piece of equipment, the Kiva solution is easy to design and install, which means it takes weeks instead of months to get a new distribution center installed.


The Kiva solution delivers breakthrough performance by solving many order fulfillment challenges simultaneously.

Fast PickingThe operator is presented with a new pick face location every six seconds, as if they had infinite pick face density with zero walking.
Rapid InstallationStarting with blank concrete or mezzanine and a few electrical outlets, installation can take as little as one day.
Real-time OrdersOrders drop instantly to the operator without the delay of waves or batches, reducing cycle time to minutes.
High AccuracyEvery item is verified by scanning the bar code or comparison to a photo, thereby reducing errors and eliminating the need for a separate QC function.
High Storage DensityConfigurable pods, trays, and bins, no forklift aisles and complete vertical use of the facility using mezzanines means higher product density than existing solutions.
Modular ExpansionAdd inventory pods and drive units to increase throughput during peak season or expand an existing facility as the market grows.
Inline SortationProducts and orders are automatically sorted during processing, enabling “pick to plan-o-gram” within an order and sequential truck loading.
High ReliabilityWith parallel equipment and no single point of failure, the system supports zero downtime in a 24 by 7 operation.
Simultaneous Picking and ReplenishmentReplenishment and picking can proceed at the same time with full productivity, allowing reduced days-on-hand of inventory.
Built-in Productivity MonitoringOperators are independent and their output can be measured at any time.
Single ProcessAll items – fast and slow, large and small – are picked with a simple pick to-light-process.
Zero Re-slottingItems are dynamically assigned to the best available location, which means that there is no need for profiling or re-slotting.