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DHL and UPS introduce autonomous tech to warehouses

DHL and UPS have both installed major tech upgrades to boost efficiency in their warehouses.

DHL is installing Avidbots’ line of Neo floor-cleaning robots across thousands of its sites.

The robots are able to work fully autonomously, using 3D sensors, cameras and machine learning to determine their routes around the warehouse. They are able to continually reprogramme their routes to evade moving obstacles such as people.

The two companies will spend the next year identifying warehouses where they can deploy the technology. DHL has previously installed the robots in some of its North American sites.

Matthias Heutger, global head of innovation and commercial development at DHL, said: “Floor-cleaning robots, while a simple innovation, reduces up to 80% of labour hours spent cleaning. This frees up our staff to engage in more value-adding, customer-centric work while driving our Strategy 2025 digitalisation agenda forward.”

Faizan Shiekh, CEO and co-founder of Avidbots, said: “DHL’s strong vote of confidence in the Neo floor-scrubbing robot is a testament to the hard work the entire Avidbots team has put into building the world’s only fully-autonomous floor-scrubbing robot.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership to deploy Neo robots in DHL warehouses on every continent.”

Meanwhile, UPS is installing a new warehouse execution system (WES) from supply chain solutions company Softeon. The WES allows the parcel carrier to monitor capacity, fulfilment requirements, backlogs and labour status.

The system can be used to feed instructions to autonomous robots within the warehouses, which UPS is introducing in some warehouses.

The company will also launch a visibility and reporting platform that will allow customers to monitor and track activity including, transportation, warehouse inventory and order volume.

Philippe Gilbert, president of supply chain solutions at UPS, said: “WES enables UPS to better leverage our global warehouse network and integrated technology to help our customers reduce capital, improve service and speed to end customers.

“We also can create more custom and turnkey outsourced fulfillment services to meet our customers’ unique supply chain needs.”

“Our investments in technology support operational improvements that enable UPS to improve service for our customers.

“The WES, AMRs, and other technologies allow us to create more customised solutions that better serve customers and improve the end-user experience.”