SHD caught up with Denis Niezgoda, Vice President, Europe for Locus Robotics, ahead of the event to find out more about the role of the AMR and the relationship with DHL.
James Burman (JB): What is an AMR?
Denis Niezgoda (DN):The Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) is an integrated solution to boosting productivity within the fulfilment warehouse. The robots work alongside the existing workforce to minimise unproductive processes and maximise efficiency.
Deployment of a fleet of robots, such as the LocusBot, means that on average, there are multiple robots per human worker operating on the warehouse floor all working independently of the human pickers. The AMR software, which is linked to the Warehouse Management System, maps the environment in which the robots will operate, enabling each unit to navigate its way around the aisles using its input LIDAR - Light Detection and Ranging - system. This enables each robot to identify the most efficient route between each pick and the route back to the packing station. This enables the pickers to remain on station, maximising their productivity by eliminating the need to walk backwards and forwards to the packing station.
If the robot is tasked with picking 15 items within an order, it will not simply select the next 15 items in the queue but will select from the thousands of items in the order pool depending on proximity. The Locus system will determine which items are nearest to the robot and send it to the appropriate picker, ensuring optimal efficiency is maintained at all times.
JB: How did the partnership between DHL and Locus Robotics develop, and why is it a good fit?
DN: DHL Supply Chain is the largest 3PL in the world and runs contract logistics operations for some of the biggest non-financial Fortune 500 companies, therefore, it cannot afford to miss cut-off times.
The ability of the AMR solution to reduce cycle times is becoming increasingly more important as pressure continues to grow on ecommerce operations to achieve faster and faster turnaround times.
After implementing the Locus solution across several of its sites in the US, DHL began to see impressive results, with cycle times reduced and productivity doubling. Therefore, when DHL's UK customer, a leading fashion retailer, needed to see an improvement in its cut-off times and an efficient means of improving its own productivity to meet growing order volumes and greater customer expectations, it asked DHL for a solution.
The 3PL therefore turned to the solution which had served it so well in the US. After a successful trial of the Locus system in its UK warehouses, DHL took the decision to massively scale up the size of its robot fleet to create the change necessary to meet the massive increase in demand.