Innovation and Automation at DHL Supply Chain

In January 2018, DHL Supply Chain deployed six autonomous mobile robots (AMR) from Locus Robotics in an 18,000-square-foot area in a facility handling medical devices. Long considered one of the most innovative of the world’s third-party logistics (3PL) providers, DHL Supply Chain understood a lot was still to be learned from an immature technology, but it wanted to get ahead of the curve and its competition. Fast forward, and DHL recently announced it has deployed more than 2,000 Locus bots in North America and has surpassed 100 million units picked across more than a dozen North American facilities. There have been a lot of learnings along the way. The same organization is now tackling autonomous lift trucks. As it did with AMRs, DHL Supply Chain is starting small, with a fleet of nine autonomous lift trucks (Crown Equipment) in an 800,000-square-foot facility in Findlay, Ohio. As with the AMRs, the initial application is limited to a portion of the 800,000-square-foot facility and is managing a select group of mid- to slow-moving SKUs. The application is also measured, limited to the putaway and retrieval of pallets from double-deep pallet rack going up six locations.

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