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            november 17, 2019

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DHL Supply Chain finds robots double warehouse picking productivity


Germany's DHL Supply Chain is finding that robots double productivity in picking medical devices at its Memphis warehouse and now plans to introduce robotics more widely in e-commerce fulfilment.
"These LocusBots have quite a good sweet spot," said DHL Supply Chain vice president Adrian Kumar, standing next to one of them at the recent Retail Industry Leaders Association convention in Phoenix. "We see them suiting e-commerce and fashion."
Dozens of the 100-pound mobile robots, made by Wilmington, Massachusetts-based Locus Robotics, now deployed by DHL Supply Chain to help speed surgical implants, prep materials delivery throughout the US.
Orders placed at night are picked by robots and put on FedEx planes and rushed to hospitals the next day, reports the American Journal of Transportation.
Mr Kumar said he believes productivity gains as high as 250 per cent greater that human capabilities are achievable with robots.
Not only is DHL Supply Chain expected to increase LocusBots at Memphis the New England company anticipates the introduction of piece-pickers at other warehouses to supply orders that are not cube-intensive.
And other robotic solutions are being explored for use in picking larger items, he said.
"Software technology allows speed to work on the floor, and hardware solutions like Locus allow faster picking," Mr Kumar said.
Other innovations demonstrated by DHL Supply Chain at its RILA event booth included another pick-assist device known as vision picking, an augmented reality tool using "smart glasses" to optimise warehouse processes.
Also used by DHL Supply Chain is an optimisation science tool called Box It Up, which saves shipping costs by finding the best carton size for items - that being the size that minimises the amount of empty space – and an algorithm-based technology that reduces pick paths through what Kumar described as "intelligent clustering of orders."

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