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Pitney Bowes to expand robotics, deploy AmbiSort tech in e-commerce hubs

Systems will help speed sorting and packaging in demanding fulfillment operations

Pitney Bowes will add AmbiSort robotics to its e-commerce hubs throughout the U.S. following a successful pilot of the technology. The technology is seen here in a screenshot from a promotional video. (Photo: Pitney Bowes)

Global parcel shipping firm Pitney Bowes is expanding its relationship with Ambi Robotics as it seeks to improve its e-commerce supply chain operations. The firm will spend $23 million to expand use of Ambi’s AmbiSort AI-powered robotics sorting systems in e-commerce hubs throughout the U.S.

“As we continue to scale our global e-commerce business, Pitney Bowes is working with some of the most innovative companies in the industry to configure new solutions that improve our service offerings and make B2C e-commerce logistics easier for our clients,” said Gregg Zegras, executive vice president and president of global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes, in Wednesday’s announcement. “The deployment of AmbiSort AI-powered systems is part of our long-term plan to further enhance our technologically efficient, employee and client-friendly e-commerce logistics network.”

The AmbiSort was first used at Pitney Bowes’ (NYSE: PBI) Stockton, California, location through the 2021 peak season. According to the company, it nearly doubled throughput for parcel sortation to Pitney Bowes’ local direct-delivery units.

Driven by e-commerce, parcel volumes have exploded around the globe — up 37% year-over-year in the U.S. alone — and now exceed 131 billion parcels annually, according to the latest Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index. The firm said e-commerce-related parcel shipping accounts for more than 50% of its total revenue.

The AmbiSort uses the AmbiOS operating system that uses simulation-to-reality technology. Currently, each package handler is tasked to pick, pack and place items via a manual vertical put wall. With AmbiSort, Pitney Bowes robot operators work alongside three to four automated horizontal put walls with the same amount of mail sacks. This increases each associate’s productivity and output by up to four times manual processes with greater sack density to the last mile, the company said.

Watch: AmbiSort technology in action

“Every decision we make at Ambi Robotics centers around the value we bring to our customers and how to uplift their employees,” said Jim Liefer, CEO of Ambi Robotics. “Our partnership with Pitney Bowes is symbiotic — the company courageously embraces innovation and technology.”

Pitney Bowes has made a series of network enhancements since peak 2020 to improve its e-commerce and parcel shipping operations. These include:

  • New e-commerce hubs in Boston, Columbus, Ohio, Seattle and Dallas.
  • Improved tracking and visibility of parcels within its network and accessibility by clients and their consumers.
  • Increased use of machine learning and data science to project estimated delivery dates more accurately.
  • An expanded Pitney Bowes-owned transportation fleet.

Heading into peak season, Pitney Bowes raised warehouse wages between $3 and $5 per hour, the company noted, and said that any seasonal employee hired would have opportunities to remain with Pitney Bowes following the peak as it seeks to grow its e-commerce business with a permanent workforce.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]