DHL and Wärtsilä finish warehouse robotics pilot

DHL and heavy machinery manufacturers Wärtsilä have completed a pilot project using Fetch Robotos’ technology in the Wärtsilä’s main distribution centre in Kampen, Holland.

Wärtsilä runs its entire spare parts supply chain of spare out of the Kampen distribution site. DHL runs the operations for the heavy engineering firm.

The two firms ran the pilot to assess the robots’ capabilities but also to “learn about the human-technology interface between robots and employees”.

Denis Niezgoda, Robotics Accelerator Lead, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, explained: “Our colleagues took centre 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 30 kilometres per day, thereby increasing productivity and safety within the warehouse working environment.”

The autonomous robots have a loading capacity of 78 kilogrammes and can move up to two metres per second. When their batteries are running low (after about nine hours), the robots will “independently makes their way to the charging unit”. They can recognize their location and surroundings, and can differentiate between dynamic and static obstacles, so they can work safely around and with people.

Anne Träskbäck, General Manager, Parts Delivery at Wärtsilä Services, commented: “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 co-operating in new, productive ways in the future.”  
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