DHL Supply Chain said it inked a deal with Locus Robotics to expand its current agreement, which will result in creating a fleet of 2,000 warehouse-assisted picking robots by 2022. The collaboration is part of DHL Supply Chain’s efforts to accelerate its digitalization strategy.
The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, but DHL Supply Chain said it was several million. The deal will make DHL Supply Chain, which is a unit of Deutsche Post DHL Group, the largest customer of Locus Robotics. The impetus behind the agreement is due to the success of the companies’ initial collaboration.
“Initial investments in assisted picking robots have proven effective in commercially scaled operations, and this multimillion dollar agreement will enhance DHL’s wider Accelerated Digitalization Strategy,” DHL said in a statement. “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.”
Markus Voss, global chief operating officer of DHL Supply Chain, said optimizing the supply chain is a priority, and noted that “assisted picking robots are very effective in this respect.”
“So far, more than 500 assisted picking robots are already in industrial use in our warehouses in the U.S., Europe and the U.K.,” Voss said. “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.”
Voss also said 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.”
Rick Faulk, chief executive officer of Locus Robotics, said the expanded deal with DHL “reflects the increasing demand for warehouse digitalization worldwide to meet today’s exploding fulfillment challenges. Locus is proud to be a valued technology resource that is helping DHL realize their strategic vision of digital transformation.”
DHL said the partnership is one part of its accelerated digitalization strategy. “Assisted picking robots help reduce time spent on maneuvering pushcarts through warehouses, lower physical strain on employees and increase picking efficiency,” the company said in a statement. “Assisted picking robots display images of goods to be picked, calculate optimal navigation routes and reduce required training time.”
DHL said the robots can also 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 we can swiftly bring in more robots with minimal onboarding effort to the existing fleet.”