Home » 3PL/4PL, Breaking News » DHL accelerates robotics program as e-commerce demand booms

Logistics powerhouse DHL Supply Chain announced it has bought four Sawyer robots, the first step of its accelerated robotics deployment program following successful trial. The robots will be flexibly used across the company’s 19 co-packing and production logistics centers in the United Kingdom.

DHL said in a written release it is introducing the new technology in response to changing requirements from its customers, who need to quickly meet peaks in demand.

“Our customers who work in consumer industries are seeing huge fluctuations in demand as consumer preferences change,” said Simon Woodward, director of co-packing and production logistics at DHL Supply Chain.

“The rise of ecommerce has led to a surge in the number of deliveries within the network and the flexible nature of Sawyer allows us to quickly respond to changing needs, delivering solutions to meet demands and fill labour gaps.”

Sawyer robots are some of the most advanced collaborative robots currently available and can support production and warehouse staff by automating repetitive tasks, the company continued. The four robots will allow DHL to leverage automation flexibly, moving the robots between different sites in support of seasonal demands.

The four Sawyer robots have been bought following successful trials packing pet food, confectionery, aerosols, and canned drinks. Following this initial investment, DHL plans to invest over £1 million (US$1.3 million) in the next 12 months to enhance its commitment to robotics and automation.

DHL added that it is now exploring how automation and robotics can be introduced at other points in the supply chain as well as at its co-packing and production logistics operations.

Sawyer robots have been carefully evaluated by DHL to ensure they have the highest health and safety credentials so they can work in collaboration with the workforce, said the statement. The robots automatically stop if they touch something unexpected, which means that humans can physically be much closer to the robots without risk of harm.

“DHL will be upskilling its existing co-packing teams to support its growth and apply this new technology, hiring specialist roles such as Robotics Technician, Project Engineer as well as other production management roles,” said the supply chain giant.

“The introduction of collaborative robotics into logistics is something we’ve been exploring at DHL for a while. After numerous trials, we are excited to now be offering our Sawyer robots as a solution to our co-packing customers’ needs.”

Photo courtesy of Rethink Robotics

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