DHL Supply Chain opens robotic fulfillment center in Germany

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DHL Supply Chain has implemented a fully automated robot picking system at a logistics center in the Lower Saxon municipality of Staufenberg for fashion retailer Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf.

The automated storage and order fulfillment system, AutoStore, is made by robot company Element Logic and covers 6,000m2;; it’s located in one of the five halls at the facility, each offering 10,000m2 of space and 50 loading bays. It is DHL Supply Chain’s largest facility of this kind, and one of the largest in Germany.

The basis of the system is a 16-level-high aluminum framework in which inventory is stacked and stored in 196,000 plastic bins. Above the bins, the aluminum framework forms a structure called the grid. The robots, 160 of them, use the grid to maneuver while picking the items for each individual order fully automatically. The goods are then further processed and prepared for shipping by their human counterparts at 21 ports.

The AutoStore system enables merchandise inventory to be fully monitored and controlled. This is to enable customer orders to be processed and shipped with greater speed and reliability. The interplay of the flexible and modularly expandible robotics solution with the local employees is intended to reduce throughput times for individual customer orders, from order placement to dispatch from the warehouse; simplify operational processes for employees; and increase operating efficiency.

DHL Supply Chain operates this logistics center for a range of customers. The location also ships merchandise to end customers in Austria, Poland and the Netherlands. The center handles inbound new merchandise and returns, the warehousing of 3.5 million fashion items, order picking and packing, and the shipping of the goods to end customers.

Rainer Haag, CEO of DHL Supply Chain Germany and Alps, commented, “We are thrilled to facilitate the omnichannel growth of a long-time customer like Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf with the help of this automated solution. It enhances our partnership and is an investment in the future success of both our companies. E-commerce is one of DHL Supply Chain’s strategic growth sectors. The use of this system is another important building block in the expansion of our e-commerce business and automation strategy. Staufenberg is an ideal location for this operation in terms of transport connections and offers us a direct link to our sister divisions DHL Paket and DHL Express. On average we can deliver 85% of parcels by the next day to recipients in Germany.”

Marco Rebohm, managing director of Mode Logistik, said, “This type of solution enables us to better meet the needs and expectations of our customers. And the higher speed and reliability of the system makes it possible for us to easily handle our steadily growing order volumes. Our vision is to be the leading multi-brand omnichannel retailer for fashion in Europe by 2026, and AutoStore is an important milestone on that path. We’re happy to have DHL Supply Chain as our partner. It’s a company with whom we can develop and implement new solutions hand-in-hand.”

Bernd Grebenstein, mayor of Staufenberg, said, “That area is the location of what we often call ‘DHL City’. You’ve got DHL Supply Chain, the DHL Paket center and DHL Express center all in one place. The logistics sector has been a welcome partner for the town of Staufenberg for years now. We intend for it to stay that way.”

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