DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics unit of DHL Group, announced a framework agreement expanding its collaboration with Locus Robotics.
Initial investments in assisted picking robots have proven effective in commercially scaled operations, DHL said, and this multimillion-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 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, 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 chief information officer and chief operating officer 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 U.K. 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,” Voss added. “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.”
DHL said assisted picking robots help reduce time spent on maneuvering pushcarts through warehouses, lower physical strain on employees and increase picking efficiency. They 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. In addition, during peak operational periods the robots provide an optimal solution for capacity expansion as DHL can quickly 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,” Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics, said.
DHL said the pandemic has accelerated the booming trend of e-commerce, which makes the labor-intensive 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.