DHL increases investment in warehouse robotics

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DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics leader within Deutsche Post DHL Group, has announced a framework agreement expanding its collaboration with Locus Robotics. The company says that initial investments in assisted picking robots have proved effective in commercially scaled operations, and the new multi-million-dollar agreement will enhance its wider Accelerated Digitalization Strategy.

By 2022, the supply chain specialist plans to take on up to 2,000 robots, making it by far the largest customer of Locus Robotics worldwide. The assisted picking robots are mostly used in e-commerce or consumer warehouses to help with picking and inventory replenishment, thereby increasing efficiency and accelerating delivery processes.

“It is particularly important for us to be able to consistently optimize our supply chains; assisted picking robots are very effective in this respect,” said Markus Voss, global CIO and COO at DHL Supply Chain. “So far, more than 500 assisted picking robots are already in industrial use in our warehouses in the USA, Europe and the UK. By the end of 2021, another 500 robots are to be added in a total of more than 20 locations. The collaborative picking technology has clearly proven its effectiveness and reliability in modern warehousing. More locations have already been identified with concrete implementation roadmaps for the remaining robots, which we will deploy in 2022. However, the overall potential for assisted picking robots in our DHL warehouses is much bigger, so we are confident that we will meet the targets we have set ourselves together with Locus Robotics.”

Implementing these robots is one step in DHL Supply Chain’s Accelerated Digitalization Strategy. The company notes that assisted picking robots help reduce time spent on maneuvering pushcarts through warehouses, eases the physical strain on employees and increases picking efficiency. Assisted picking robots display images of goods to be picked, calculate optimal navigation routes and reduce required training time. Furthermore, they can be swiftly integrated into the warehouse system landscape via DHL Supply Chain’s Robotics Hub and have been well received by staff. In addition, during peak operational periods the robots provide an optimal solution for capacity expansion as they can be swiftly scaled with minimal onboarding effort to the existing fleet.

“Our expanded partnership with DHL reflects the increasing demand for warehouse digitalization worldwide to meet today’s exploding fulfillment challenges,” said Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics. “Locus is proud to be a valued technology resource that is helping DHL realize their strategic vision of digital transformation.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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