XPO’s largest robotic deployment to date will bring 5,000 units to its warehouse

Additional robotic deployment comes as XPO readies for seasonal rush.

XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO) announced its largest deployment of warehouse robotics with an order for 5,000 devices to be put to use in its logistics facilities across North America and Europe.

The Connecticut-based company is working with Singapore-based GreyOrange, which recently secured $140 million in venture funding. GreyOrange is opening a headquarters in Atlanta, where its first U.S. client deployed 740 robots.

GreyOrange says it will deploy an additional 20,000 robots in the U.S. by 2019. XPO says it will be the “exclusive” logistics customer for GreyOrange’s robots in North America, the United Kingdom and eight European countries.

XPO’s chief executive Bradley Jacobs says the investment in the robots will “make our logistics operations safer and more productive in picking, packing and sortation.

“These are important benefits for our customers – particularly in the e-commerce and omnichannel retail sectors, where order speed and accuracy are essential ways to compete.”

The GreyOrange devices will be integrated with existing automation systems that include mobile storage racks and fulfillment stations. The GreyOrange devices can bring a rack weighing up to 3,500 pounds to a warehouse worker, who can then fulfill 48 orders simultaneously.

It was unclear whether the robots will be deployed in time for the holiday rush, which may be more challenging this year as logistics and order fulfillment centers look for seasonal workers. XPO itself said it plans to hire 8,000 seasonal workers in the fourth quarter, up from a seasonal hiring of 6,000 last year.

XPO has worked with 29 robotics companies and deployed 79 different types of robots across its warehouses. Other XPO robotics vendors include Waltham-based 6 River Systems, which has deployed more than 100 robots for XPO; and KUKA’s (XETRA: KUKA) Swisslog, which is said to be providing the robotics for the digital warehouse XPO is building in the U.K. for Nestle.


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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.