DHL has successfully run a pilot test including robot technology for collaborative automated order picking at its warehouse in Unna, Germany.
The robot, called EffiBOT from the French start-up Effidence, is a fully automated trolley that follows pickers through the warehouse and takes care of most of the physical work. It is specifically designed to work safely with and around people.
During the test, two robots supported the pickers by carrying the weight and automatically dropping off the orders once fully loaded.
Michael Artinger, site manager at DHL Supply Chain who was responsible for the test, said: “The picking cart follows the picker through the rack system. Once it reaches full capacity, the picker simply sends it to the designated drop-off location, while another picking cart joins. This solution makes moving from single to multi-order picking a more efficient and ergonomic process.”
DHL is also testing collaborative robots for value-added services such as co-packing, as well as mobile piece picking robots autonomously navigating through warehouse shelves are being tested.
Markus Kückelhaus, vice-president of innovation and trend research at DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, added: “In the following weeks, DHL will continuously perform tests with different robot types and systems. These evaluation results will then determine which technologies will be permanently implemented.”
DHL’s latest trend report Robotics in Logistics looks at the potential of robotics and its impact on supply chains. It is available online at www.dhl.com/robots.