DHL Tests New Robots to Support Warehouse Operations
DHL is currently testing Baxter and Sawyer, two smart and collaborative robots, in its warehouses on co-packing and value-added tasks, such as assembly, kitting, packaging and pre-retail services. Baxter and Sawyer, by Rethink Robotics, are smart, adaptable solutions that support warehouse staff and help enhance productivity at DHL facilities.
“Historically, the distribution environment has been difficult to automate using traditional industrial robots, which do not respond well to variability,” said Matthias Heutger, SVP, Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation. “In our recently published DHL Trend Report “Robotics in Logistics”, we found that 80 percent of logistics facilities today are still manual due to the complexity of the operations. As technology improves, the logistics industry is benefiting from the adoption of collaborative robots to improve efficiency.”
DHL is currently testing the integration of several Baxter and Sawyer robots into various operational sites across the globe. DHL also recently purchased its first Sawyer robot and researched on 3D printing possibilities to create specialized grippers for the robots, allowing for additional tasks to be completed in the warehouse.
“Baxter and Sawyer robots are some of the most advanced collaborative robots in the market, and we plan to use them in a variety of packaging and inventory tasks that will allow us to deploy our employees for higher value work,” said Adrian Kumar, Vice President, Solutions Design, DHL Supply Chain North America. “By having these robots work in tandem with humans, we can ensure that our production lines are adjusting to changes and running more efficiently year-round.”
“The logistics industry has been unable to leverage smart, collaborative robots until recently, and the high-performance Sawyer robot is changing the game in what we can and cannot automate,” said Markus Kückelhaus, Vice President Innovation and Trend Research, DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation. “We are excited about bringing flexibility and efficiency to our factory floor – enabling shorter cycle times, more uptime and helping our bottom line.”