Deutsche Post unit DHL Supply Chain North America is investing $300 million to increase the level of automation and robotics at 350 of its 430 facilities, in order to better handle the crush of ecommerce orders, the company told Bloomberg News.
DHL also plans to open a 24,000-square-foot innovation center near Chicago in September 2019, with a focus on developing new tools that can increase the speed of online order fulfillment.
Among the advanced systems to be used in DHL facilities are autonomous trolleys that shadow human workers and robots that can pick and sort products by themselves, the company said.
“The maturity of the technology in this area has really improved, so it’s given us an opportunity to make a larger investment,” Scott Sureddin, CEO of DHL Supply Chain North America told Bloomberg.
DHL has been at the forefront of testing and deploying advanced automation in its facilities, including the use of augmented reality glasses to help associates fulfill orders more efficiently and using autonomous bots from Locus Robotics, both in 2017. While DHL abandoned the domestic parcel market a decade ago, it is competing heavily with the likes of XPO Logistics as well as UPS and FedEx for fulfillment services.
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