DHL and Wärtsilä team up for successful supply chain robotics pilot
DHL and technology group Wärtsilä have successfully piloted a robotics scheme that tested the capabilities of robots to run the daily warehouse operations, from order intake to delivery.
The pilot was carried out in Wärtsilä's central distribution centre in Kampen, the Netherlands, where the entire logistics chain of Wärtsilä's spare parts is managed. As Wärtsilä's partner, DHL runs the warehouse operations.
The aim of the project was to investigate possibilities to utilize the latest technology innovations in the daily operations of the warehouse.
Wärtsilä and DHL also wanted to gain more understanding of the added value of robotics, which are manufactured by Fetch Robotics, in a warehouse environment and to learn about the human-technology interface between robots and employees.
The mobile robot system simplifies point to point material handling, while workers were able to interact with the robots via touchscreen and send them on their journeys with a push of a button.
“Our colleagues took center stage during the trial. The robots are designed to work alongside employees and to relieve them from physically strenuous tasks,” said Denis Niezgoda, Robotics Accelerator Lead, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation.
“The robots alone took over a walking distance of more than 30 kilometers per day, thereby increasing productivity and safety within the warehouse working environment.”
The autonomous mobile robots have a loading capacity of 78 kilograms and can cover a distance of two meters per second. When the battery life of maximum nine hours comes to an end, the freight robot independently makes its way to the charging unit.
The intelligent robots recognize their location and surroundings, and can differentiate between dynamic and static obstacles, thus enabling evasive action to work safely with and around people.
Wärtsilä and its partners have decided the success of the pilot is such that further development and testing should take place.
“Over the coming months, we will continue to trial different robot types and technologies together with our partners to further improve productivity, quality and safety in our operations,” said Anne Träskbäck, General Manager, Parts Delivery at Wärtsilä Services.
Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”