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How robotic picking is revolutionizing warehouse productivity

What’s one of the most strenuous and time-consuming tasks in a warehouse? The seemingly simple process of order picking. Here’s how robotic picking is changing that.

Meet DHL’s high performing robots: Locus AMRs

Shopping online may be an entirely digital experience, but the process of fulfilling that order is often still a very analog affair. While shoppers lounge comfortably on their couches, “order pickers” push heavy carts up and down the warehouse aisles, picking purchases off shelves and ferrying them to the packing station, where they are prepped for shipment.

It’s a time-consuming and physically strenuous task. But that’s changing. Robotic picking with what are known as “autonomous mobile robots” or AMRs is automating and optimizing the physical movement of goods. These high-performing robotic picking assistants increase efficiency and free up our human resources to utilize their intelligence for more value-adding work.

DHL Supply Chain has been partnering with Locus Robotics on robotic picking solutions since 2017. The DHL robots made by Locus have been such a runaway success that we’re scaling up our partnership to deploy 5,000 of their most sophisticated robots, the Locus Origin, across our global network of warehouses and distribution centers by the end of 2023. It’s the biggest AMR deal the industry has ever seen.

Locus Robotics - The solution that thinks outside the cart.

The robotic picking pros – what Locus does best

In e-commerce and supply chain logistics, the repetitive process of order picking is not easy to automate. Today’s e-fulfillment centers cover enormous spaces and store millions of items. Solutions that boost picking efficiency and reduce the physical toll on employees are essential. They help supply chain companies like DHL optimize operations, create healthy working environments, and gain a competitive advantage.

Assisted picking robots like Locus AMRs represent a breakthrough in efficiency. Robotic picking can increase the number of items picked per hour by up to 180%. That’s a big deal, especially right now. The pandemic has brought an e-commerce boom in its wake, and customer demands for product availability and delivery time are high. An efficiency increase of this magnitude is a big win for e-commerce businesses and order fulfillment services.

It’s a big win for our warehouse teams, too. Robotic picking helps us meet our commitment to create a safe and purpose-driven workplace and provide a great place to work. With AMRs rolling up and down the aisles, our people spend less time walking long distances and pushing heavy carts and instead focus on value-adding work that calls for human intelligence. The robots are also equipped with obstacle-detection sensors to prevent occupational hazards.









Source: DHL, Locus

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DHL robots are fast, flexible, and scalable

Our staff not only benefits from an immediate productivity boost – they also get along famously with their robotic colleagues. Employees rave about how easy it is to work alongside the DHL robots and have been quick to embrace the expanded capabilities.

Locus Robotics has made integration into complex operations like those at DHL facilities a high priority. DHL Robotics Hub, our proprietary software solution, offers easy and flexible integration of the AMRs into our existing warehouse management or control systems.

The Locus AMRs are the ideal solution for a quick capacity boost during peak periods with exceptionally high fulfillment demand. We can swiftly scale up our DHL robot fleet with minimal onboarding effort, getting them up and running in only about 20% of the time required to recruit, hire, and train new human pickers.

Logistics operations demand flexibility, which makes the scalability of the Locus AMRs a key asset for deploying more DHL robots to other DHL Supply Chain facilities.

Key benefits of assisted picking robots

Improved productivity

Reduced error rate

Lower physical strain

Faster on-boarding

Delivering tomorrow’s smart warehouse today

By vastly scaling up our robotic picking fleet to 5,000 AMRs in DHL Supply Chain facilities worldwide, we are making a key investment in warehouse automation and the digital supply chain.

The surge in demand in the B2C e-commerce sector is already spilling over into B2B logistics operations. Innovative warehousing solutions involving robotic picking and other technology provide the boost we need to meet the exploding demand. Together with our partners at Locus Robotics, building a team of DHL robots and revolutionizing warehouse productivity and delivering tomorrow’s smart warehouse today.

Updated: June 2023

DHL Supply Chain

The world’s leading contract logistics provider

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