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.