Pitney Bowes to invest US$23m in AI robotics deployment

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Logistics company Pitney Bowes will invest an additional US$23m in AI-powered robotics from sorting systems provider Ambi Robotics.

The expansion follows an initial deployment last year of Ambi Robotics’ AmbiSort systems at Pitney Bowes’ e-commerce hub in Stockton, California, where the solution was used to successfully sort parcels during the 2021 peak holiday season, nearly doubling the throughput for parcel sortation to local direct delivery units.

Since the initial deployment, improvements to the solution include new robotic hardware components and AI software that increases throughput. Additional outbound placement locations increase sorting capacity, and the system’s horizontal putwall increases sack density to the last mile. A new hand-off region between the piece-picking robot cell and the gantry system enables the robot to singulate and grasp a parcel while simultaneously placing another parcel in the appropriate last-mile mail sack.

Ambi Robotics is powered by AmbiOS, the AI operating system that leverages simulation-to-reality (Sim2Real) technology. AmbiSort solutions integrate into existing operations and create systems that can scale with demand. The robots are expected to speed parcel sortation to last-mile delivery providers, while improving productivity, accuracy and worker safety. Pitney Bowes will make the investment in Robot as a Service (RaaS) fees over the next four years.

As parcel volume exceeds 131 billion annual parcels globally with more than 37% year-on-year growth in the USA alone, as revealed in the latest Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, logistics and global delivery organizations continue to seek automated solutions that can quickly scale to meet their unique needs.

Previously, each package handler was tasked to pick, pack and place items via a manual vertical putwall. With AmbiSort, Pitney Bowes robot operators work alongside 3-4 automated horizontal putwalls with the same number of mail sacks. This has been calculated to increase each associate’s productivity and output by up to four times manual processes with greater sack density to the last mile.

Jim Liefer, CEO of Ambi Robotics, said, “Every decision we make at Ambi Robotics centers around the value we bring to our customers and how to uplift their employees. Our partnership with Pitney Bowes is symbiotic – the company courageously embraces innovation and technology. There is a reason Pitney Bowes is a 100-year strong company.”

Gregg Zegras, executive vice president and president of global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes, said, “As we continue to scale our global e-commerce business, Pitney Bowes is working with some of the most innovative companies in the industry to configure new solutions that improve our service offerings and make B2C e-commerce logistics easier for our clients.

“The deployment of AmbiSort AI-powered systems is part of our long-term plan to further enhance our technologically efficient, employee- and client-friendly e-commerce logistics network. At the heart of Ambi Robotics’ culture of creativity and client-centricity is a core set of values that we share – we look forward to continued collaboration and innovation through our partnership.”

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