DHL completes trial of Fetch robots at Dutch warehouse

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Deutsche Post DHL Group and technology manufacturer Wärtsilä have completed a pilot project testing mobile robots from Fetch Robotics for warehouse applications.

The pilot was carried out in Wärtsilä’s central distribution center in Kampen, the Netherlands, where DHL is responsible for running the warehouse and ensuring the smooth operation of the entire logistics chain, from order intake to customer delivery.

The aim of the project was to gain a better understanding of the added value of 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. It enabled workflows at Wärtsilä’s warehouse to be set up and modified very quickly without the need for complex programming. Workers can interact with the robots via touchscreen and send them on their journeys with a push of a button.

Denis Niezgoda, robotics accelerator lead, DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation, said, “Our colleagues took center stage during the trial. The robots are designed to work alongside employees and to relieve them from physically strenuous tasks. The robots alone took over a walking distance of more than 30km (18.6 miles) per day, thereby increasing productivity and safety within the warehouse working environment.”

The autonomous mobile robots have a loading capacity of 78kg (172 lb) and can cover a distance of 2m/s (4.5mph). 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.

Melonee Wise, CEO at Fetch Robotics, said, “Our relationship with DHL is a great accomplishment. We were able to deploy our robots in the facility in a matter of days, and rapidly improve on-site productivity, while increasing the safety of the warehouse employees.”

Anne Träskbäck, general manager, parts delivery at Wärtsilä Services, said, “The pilot was a success and, as a result, we have decided to continue exploring and developing new applications of smart mobile robot technology. 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. We have exciting times ahead. Working with robots means embracing a new change, and cooperating in new, productive ways in the future.”

To watch a video of the robots in action, click here.

July 11, 2017

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Dan joined Postal and Parcel Technology International in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As assistant editor, he now produces daily content for the website and supports the editors with the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest logistics news, Dan can be found apprehensively planning his next DIY project for his new home.

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