DHL Supply Chain, part of Deutsche Post DHL Group, has launched a new “plug & play” robotics platform in collaboration with Microsoft, and the artificial intelligence (AI)-driven digital fulfillment provider Blue Yonder.
The robotics platform, announced today, marks another step in DHL’s broader digitization efforts. It is designed to reduce integration time and programming efforts involved in on-boarding new automation devices into warehouse facilities, and to give the company’s customers flexibility in selecting suitable robotics systems that meet their business needs.
The solution uses Microsoft Azure IoT and cloud platform services.
The deployment of robots and robotic systems “is integral” to DHL Supply Chain’s strategy to support employees and improve customer operations, said Markus Voss, Global CIO and COO, in a press statement.
“Automation and collaborative robotics help us make operational processes more flexible, ergonomic and more attractive to our employees,” he said, “by replacing monotonous, repetitive and particularly strenuous activities.”
The aim is not to replace employees over time, Voss clarified, “but to assign the more attractive and interesting tasks to our human workforce.”
A first implementation at a DHL Supply Chain facility in Madrid has demonstrated a 60% reduction in integration times, according to the press statement, and with subsequent deployments DHL foresees further improvements of up to 90%.
The robotics platform is powered by Blue Yonder’s Luminate Platform with machine-learning (ML)-driven task management capabilities that enable a high level of warehouse operational efficiency.
As labor market shortages hit the market during peak seasons, DHL sites can now bring on a robotics vendor quickly to augment its resource capacity and support its workforce,” said Girish Rishi, CEO of Blue Yonder, in the statement.
Other elements of DHL Supply Chain’s digitization strategy include focusing on technologies such as robots, smart operations through wearable devices and data analytics.
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