DHL surpasses 100 million units picked with Locus Robotics machines

DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL Group, says it has surpassed 100 million units picked in its North American facilities by LocusBots from Locus Robotics.

The milestone was achieved in DHL’s Hanover Township, Pennsylvania location, fulfilling orders for a major apparel retailer. The milestone achieved in this facility is one of more than a dozen DHL sites in North America, using more than 2,000 LocusBots – more than any other contract logistics company.

Sally Miller, CIO, DHL Supply Chain North America, says: “As this milestone illustrates, our unrivaled implementation and productization of assisted picking robots has been a tremendous success for our customers’ supply chains.

“It is a testament to our team’s ability to integrate groundbreaking technologies into customer operations seamlessly and in a targeted way to maximize their effectiveness. We have gained invaluable insight into how to scale the technology strategically and quickly to better adjust capacity to help meet changing demand, especially during peak periods.

“Robot-assisted picking is just one of the 12 technology categories DHL Supply Chain focuses on as part of our commitment to accelerated digitalization. We are making significant progress in our commitment, as evidenced by this milestone, as well as our collaboration with Boston Dynamics and our recent autonomous forklift deployment.”

In preparation for peak periods, DHL Supply Chain can swiftly add more assisted picking robots where needed, sometimes transferring them from one facility to another to support demand shifts and seasonal peaks. It also makes it easier to train workers with minimal onboarding effort.

Worker training is 80 percent faster than prior to the deployment of the robots, which has become even more helpful amid the current labor crunch. Associates spend less time walking long distances and pushing heavy carts and instead focus on value-added work. They have described how easy it is to learn how the robots work and have been quick to embrace the expanded capabilities.

Miller adds: “It is about reducing the number of positions we need to fill in fast-growing segments such as eCommerce, not reducing the number of workers; all of which helps to create a more efficient, comfortable work environment for current associates. The technology has become a powerful retention and recruiting tool.”

Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics, says: “We are proud to share this amazing milestone with DHL.

“DHL Supply Chain is our most tenured partner and their strong digitalization vision aligns well with Locus’s mission. Since our first deployment five years ago, they have grown into our largest customer with over 2,000 robots under contract globally.

“We look forward to further strengthening this valuable relationship as we continue to deploy our LocusBots across the DHL network of supply chain sites.”

In 2017, DHL Supply Chain North America and Locus Robotics first partnered to support associates in piece picking order fulfillment in warehouses. The LocusBots navigate autonomously to collaborate with associates to improve order picking productivity and throughput.

They can be flexibly deployed as demand changes to support a diverse range of picking strategies, significantly reducing time spent on routine or physically demanding tasks, reducing manual errors and increasing productivity.

DHL Supply Chain says it continues to identify sites across multiple sectors that could benefit from this “highly flexible, productivity-enhancing technology”.

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