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DHL set to roll out 1000 new autonomous robots

DHL set to roll out 1000 new autonomous robots article image

Autonomous mobile robots are fast becoming an integral part of global commerce supply chains.

Contract logistics company DHL Supply Chain is one of many companies now expanding deployments of autonomous mobile robots.

DHL recently signed an agreement with US startup Locus Robotics to supply 1000 LocusBot autonomous robots this year.

The expanded partnership will include 10 new, nationwide deployments in 2020 and an expanded multi-site service agreement.

Autonomous robots can navigate semi-structured warehouse spaces, in the global logistics, fulfillment, and supply chain sectors.

Locus is one of a growing number of warehouse robotics providers helping retailers and third-party logistics operators automate existing operations without major retrofits.

New and emerging opportunities

"The agreement with Locus Robotics further enables us to bring productivity-enhancing technology to our customers quickly, so they are well-positioned to capitalise on new and emerging opportunities," said Jim Gehr, President, Retail at DHL Supply Chain North America.

"DHL Supply Chain's initial implementation of the Locus solution within the life sciences and retail sectors was a tremendous success; we saw increases in fulfillment productivity of up to 80% in selected customer operations."

Robots are now widely used in the shipping and warehouse facilities across the globe to help logistics companies save valuable time. E-commerce giant Amazon now has more than 200,000 robots currently deployed in its centres across the US.

Now, a new generation of companies like Fetch RoboticsOTTO Motors, and Locus are bridging the gap with autonomous carts and pickers that can navigate semi-structured environments like warehouses.Locus

"We now see an opportunity to extend the benefits of utilizing their highly flexible AMR solution at scale for customers across multiple sectors," said Gehr. "We look forward to continuing to work with Locus to drive productivity, support capacity growth and deliver continuous improvement within our customers' supply chains nationwide."

Reducing manual errors and increasing productivity

DHL Supply Chain North America and Locus Robotics first partnered in 2017 to pilot a collaborative, autonomous robotics solution – LocusBots – to support associates in piece picking order fulfillment in warehouses.

The LocusBots navigate autonomously within warehouses to quickly locate and transport pick items to associates. They can be flexibly deployed to support a diverse range of picking strategies, significantly reducing time spent on routine or physically demanding tasks, reducing manual errors and increasing productivity.

In late 2018, DHL’s North American wing announced plans to invest $300 million in robotics and automation across 350 facilities.

Locus Robotics was one of about 25 robotics companies DHL had plans to partner with when its initial investments were announced in 2018. 

The startup raised a $26 million Series C funding in April of last year. 

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