DHL Supply Chain is increasing the deployment of autonomous forklifts and pallet movers in its more than 1,500 warehouses worldwide. The company is focusing on sites in labor-tight markets across North America and Europe.
Autonomous pallet movers can move palletized goods both vertically and horizontally, making them especially useful in sectors such as consumer, retail or automotive that require full-pallet handling.
The deployment is part of DHL Supply Chain’s Accelerated Digitalization agenda, a plan for commercializing and scaling innovative solutions.
“One of the main advantages of these indoor robotic transport devices is that they add immediate benefits to our operations and can theoretically be deployed in all of our pallet-handling operations. All told, our sites see millions of pallet movements every day. Not only do these processes require technical assets – forklifts or pallet movers, they also tie up substantial workforce capacity that we could deploy more effectively elsewhere, especially in labor-tight markets. We estimate that up to 30% of our global material-handling equipment fleet will use some form of robotic automation by 2030.”Markus Voss, Global CIO & COO at DHL Supply Chain
DHL Supply Chain Digitalization Agenda Improves Efficiency and Safety
Automated forklifts take over the picking, storing, and replenishment of full pallets in warehouses, reducing the number of manual pallet transfers without significant changes to the warehouse infrastructure.
These forklifts can easily reach DHL’s tallest warehousing racks at heights of 33 feet (10 meters) or more and can handle all kinds of pallets, stillages, and other unit load storage equipment.
In DHL Supply Chain’s deployed configurations, the robotic units achieve 65% of human productivity and move 10 to 15 pallets per hour while safely working alongside warehouse employees and other traditional material-handling equipment.
This form of hybrid work involving the collaboration of humans and robots can be especially helpful in markets with volatile logistics activities, as well as in regions temporarily suffering shortages of qualified workers.
With 24/7 operation, DHL calculates that a fleet of just a dozen of these autonomous forklifts can handle over a million pallets per year in just one facility while increasing efficiency and improving workplace safety.
Improvements like this help DHL Supply Chain to further increase service excellence for its customers while making operations more effective and safe.
DHL Supply Chain is the contract logistics (3PL/Third-Party Logistics) arm of Deutsche Post DHL Group.
DEFINITION // 3PL // Common abbreviation for Third-Party Logistics that typically describes order fulfillment through a warehouse company that picks, packs, and ships online orders on demand. Third-party warehouses may also provide additional services, such as receiving bulk goods and repackaging them for individual sale as well as receiving and managing customer returns. 3PL providers usually integrate with the most popular online commerce platforms, carts, and marketplaces. Learn More
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