DHL Supply Chain to expand collaboration with Locus 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, which offers autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that assist humans in warehouse fulfillment processes. Initial investments in assisted picking robots have proven effective in commercially scaled operations, according to DHL Supply Chain, with this multi-million dollar agreement enhancing DHL’s wider Accelerated Digitalization Strategy.

By 2022, DHL Supply Chain plans to take on up to 2,000 robots, then being 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,” says Markus Voss, Global CIO and COO 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.”

Further implementing these robots is one step in DHL Supply Chain’s Accelerated Digitalization Strategy. Assisted picking robots help reduce time spent on maneuvering pushcarts through warehouses, lower physical strain on employees, and increase picking efficiency. Assisted picking robots display images of goods to be picked, calculate optimal navigation routes and reduce required training time. Also, they can be swiftly integrated into the warehouse system landscape via DHL Supply Chain’s Robotics Hub and are well received by staff, the announcement from DHL Supply Chain explained. In addition, during peak operational periods the robots provide an optimal solution for capacity expansion as we can swiftly bring in more robots 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, Locus Robotics. “Locus is proud to be a valued technology resource that is helping DHL realize their strategic vision of digital transformation.”

The pandemic has accelerated the booming trend of e-commerce, which makes the labor intense picking process in e-fulfillment play an even bigger and more critical role in meeting high end-customers’ demands. These trends speeded up the introduction of new technologies and automation in various industries, but especially in warehousing, DHL Supply Chain stated. DHL Supply Chain is constantly assessing which of the implemented technologies will make their way into the warehouses permanently in order to further optimize processes. In addition to these tangible robotic solutions, DHL Supply Chain relies on software and cockpit solutions that can provide real-time information on the status of the global service logistics network of their customers. Accessing the pool of big data and implementing algorithms and artificial intelligence has proven to be a “game changer” in global supply chain planning, according to DHL Supply Chain, and will be rolled out further.


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