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DHL to add thousands of autonomous robots to global network

May 10, 2023
Locus Robotics robot

Photo: Locus Robotics

Logistics heavy hitter DHL Supply Chain is rolling out Locus Robotics’ autonomous mobile robots across its global network of warehouses and distribution centers, the companies tell Axios.

Why it matters: Many parts of the supply chain still move products manually, so digitizing these processes have been a focal point for many logistics providers — especially to help with labor challenges.

Plus, e-commerce sales have exploded over the past few years with more volume going through distribution networks.

Details: Some 5,000 Locus robots will be deployed across DHL’s facilities in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

  • It takes little capital upfront and a matter of weeks to get its robots-as-a-service model up-and-running at warehouses, Locus Robotics CEO Rick Faulk says.
  • The robots support DHL’s e-commerce fulfillment, retail replenishment, and pharmaceutical and healthcare logistics.
  • Back in November, Locus Robotics raised $117 million in Series F funding led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and G2 Venture Partners.

The big picture: Solutions that address the labor shortage issue like automation and artificial intelligence will drive the next wave of investment, industry insiders say.

  • Automation “is the only way to move forward” to address the labor challenge, DHL information chief Sally Miller says.
  • Despite a tight labor market, it’s difficult to find workers to fill positions and retain them.
  • Automation helps reduce the need for so many workers, she says, and it also enables the company to create higher-skilled and more meaningful positions.

Catch up fast: DHL has around 1,400 sites globally, and it expects Locus’ robots to cover “a fair number of those," Miller says.

  • The robots are “a differentiator for us. It helps our operations be more efficient," she adds.

Zoom in: Locus Robotics can double the number of units picked within an hour, Faulk says, adding “a lot of facilities are able to ship significantly more volume."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected with the DHL information chief's name, Sally Miller.

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