DHL tests Baxter and Sawyer robots

DHL is exploring how to use Baxter and Sawyer robots in its warehouses. These smart robots will be involved in co-packing and other tasks such as assembly, kitting, packaging and pre-retail services. According to a statement by DHL, “Rethink Robotics’ Baxter and Sawyer are smart, adaptable solutions that support warehouse staff and could help to enhance productivity at DHL facilities.”

“Historically, the distribution environment has been difficult to automate using traditional industrial robots, which do not respond well to variability,” says Matthias Heutger, SVP Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “In our recently published DHL Trend Report “Robotics in Logistics” we found that 80 percent of logistics facilities today are still manual due to the complexity of the operations. As technology improves however, the logistics industry is benefitting from the adoption of collaborative robots to improve efficiency,” he adds.

The international delivery company is looking at how to integrate the new robots into various operational sites across the globe. DHL has also recently purchased its own Sawyer robot. Its research entails 3D printing possibilities that would create specialist grippers for the robots, allowing for additional tasks to be completed in the warehouse.

“Baxter and Sawyer robots are some of the most advanced collaborative robots on the market, and we plan to deploy them in a variety of packaging and inventory tasks that will allow us to use our employees for higher value work,” says Adrian Kumar, Vice President of Solutions Design North America at DHL Supply Chain. “By deploying these robots to work in tandem with humans, we can ensure our production lines are adjusting to changes and running more efficiently year-round.”

DHL is now able to leverage automation that can adapt to real world variability, change applications quickly and perform tasks like people do.

“The logistics industry has been unable to leverage smart, collaborative robots until recently, and the high performance Sawyer robot is changing the game in what we can and cannot automate,” adds Markus Kückelhaus, Vice President Innovation and Trend Research, DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation. “We are excited about bringing flexibility and efficiency to our factory floor, enabling shorter cycle times, more uptime and helping our bottom line.”