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DHL opens its largest fully automated robotic fulfillment center in Germany

DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics specialist of Deutsche Post DHL Group, is now operating a fully-automated robot picking system at a logistics center in the Lower Saxon municipality of Staufenberg for an important long-time customer, Peek & Cloppenburg, an international chain of department stores from Germany.

The system, AutoStore, is made by robot specialist Element Logic and covers 6,000 square meters, making it one of the largest fully-automated storage and order fulfillment systems in Germany.

It’s located in one of the five halls at the location, each of which offers 10,000 square meters of space and 50 loading bays. DHL Supply Chain operates this massive logistics center for a range of customers.

Nationwide e-commerce for fashion retailer Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf is just one focus of DHL Supply Chain’s operations in Staufenberg. The location also ships merchandise to end customers in Austria, Poland and the Netherlands.

The center handles inbound new merchandise and returns, the warehousing of 3.5 million fashion items, order picking and packing, and the shipping of the goods to end customers.

The AutoStore system there allows merchandise inventory to be fully monitored and controlled, ensuring high efficiency in storage and retrieval. This enables customer orders to be processed and shipped with greater speed and reliability.

The interplay of the flexible and modularly expandible robotics solution with the local employees reduces throughput times for individual customer orders, from order placement to dispatch from the warehouse, simplifies operational processes for employees, and increases operating efficiency.

AutoStore offers space-saving warehousing and fully-automated order fulfillment. The basis of the system is a 16-level high aluminum framework in which inventory is stacked and stored in 196,000 plastic bins.

Above the bins, the aluminum framework forms a structure called the “grid”. The robots, 160 of them, use the grid to maneuver while picking the items for each individual order fully automatically. The goods are then further processed and prepared for shipping by their human counterparts at 21 “ports”.

“We are thrilled to facilitate the omnichannel growth of a long-time customer like Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf with the help of this automated solution,” says Rainer Haag, CEO of DHL Supply Chain Germany & Alps.

“It enhances our partnership and is an investment in the future success of both our companies. E-commerce is one of DHL Supply Chain’s strategic growth sectors. The use of this system is another important building block in the expansion of our e-commerce business and automation strategy.

“Staufenberg is an ideal location for this operation in terms of transport connections and offers us a direct link to our sister divisions DHL Paket and DHL Express. On average we can deliver 85 percent of parcels by the next day to recipients in Germany.”

Marco Rebohm, managing director of Mode Logistik, is also pleased with the new AutoStore fulfillment system in Staufenberg. “This type of solution enables us to better meet the needs and expectations of our customers,” he says.

“And the higher speed and reliability of the system makes it possible for us to easily handle our steadily growing order volumes. Our vision is to be the leading multi-brand omnichannel retailer for fashion in Europe by 2026, and AutoStore is an important milestone on that path.”

Mode Logistik is a subsidiary of the Peek & Cloppenburg group and oversees logistics for the multi-brand fashion retailer.

“We’re happy to have DHL Supply Chain as our partner,” Rebohm continues. “It’s a company with whom we can develop and implement new solutions hand-in-hand.”

District Administrator Marcel Riethig from Göttingen is also excited about the cooperation between Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf and DHL in the area. “It offers enormous opportunities to the people of Staufenberg, the surrounding communities and the region,” he says.

“Our central location in the heart of Germany means that Staufenberg also has the potential to benefit from future growth in the logistics sector. The logistics park has played a very important role here for years now. It’s part of the commercial area adjacent to Lutterberg and right next to Autobahn 7.”

Bernd Grebenstein, mayor of Staufenberg, also views DHL’s local presence as positive. “That area is the location of what we often call ‘DHL City’.

“You’ve got DHL Supply Chain, the DHL Paket center and DHL Express center all in one place. The logistics sector has been a welcome partner for the town of Staufenberg for years now. We intend for it to stay that way.”

Provided, of course, that traffic doesn’t become too heavy.

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