Locus Robotics and DHL Supply Chain today announced an expanded partnership that will include 10 new deployments of Locus autonomous mobile robots across U.S. locations throughout the rest of the year. With the agreement, DHL Supply Chain, part of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, will deploy 1,000 LocusBots to support 12 DHL sites in North America.
“The agreement with Locus Robotics further enables us to bring productivity-enhancing technology to our customers quickly, so they are well positioned to capitalize on new and emerging opportunities,” said Jim Gehr, president of 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. We now see an opportunity to extend the benefits of utilizing their highly flexible AMR solution at scale for customers across multiple sectors. 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.”
Flexible picking strategies
The two companies initially partnered in 2017 to pilot the LocusBot solutions to support associates in piece-picking order fulfillment in warehouses. The AMRs navigate autonomously within a warehouse to quickly locate and transport pick items to associates. Locus said the robots can be flexibly deployed to support a range of picking strategies, helping to reduce time spent on routine or physically demanding tasks, reducing manual errors and increase productivity for customers.
“We are very excited to be growing our partnership with DHL Supply Chain,” said Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics. “We’ve already identified the sites in question and expect deployment in 2020 to support volume for peak season. What is particularly gratifying about this expansion is that the DHL decision was based on observed successes in their early facilities. We continue to see customers expanding their relationships as they prove out our solution.”
DHL Supply Chain is one of the early adopters in using robotics in their operations. In 2018, the company announced a multi-year plan to invest $300 million in emerging technologies in its North American operations. The company has rolled out an accelerated digitalization program that identified 14 target technologies – seven that involve collaborative robotics – that can be fast-traced into customers’ operations. In September 2019, the company opened its Americas Innovation Center outside of Chicago that includes demonstration capabilities of robotics in warehouse, logistics and other areas of the supply chain.
“Partnerships with emerging technology providers such as Locus Robotics allows DHL to quickly bring proven, productivity-enhancing technology and data-driven insights to customers’ supply chains,” the company said.
The warehouse automation market continues to see large growth expectations in coming years. LogisticsIQ has predicted that the warehouse automation market will hit $27 billion by 2025, while market intelligence firm Interact Analysis suggests that order fulfillment robots will drive the deployment of more than 580,000 robots in warehouses over the next five years.