DPDHL – report on robots in logistics

Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) has released a report that looks at the future of robotics in logistics. With artificial intelligence combining with traditional robotics, it seems the whole industry is moving toward automation.

The report, Robotics in Logistics says that robots “may soon be picking, packing and moving goods in the logistics environment”.

DPDHL refers to the concept of ‘collaborative robots’, machines that work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them.

Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, said “Robots work in many industries but haven’t made an impact on logistics yet because of the complexity of the work – handling a wide array of different things in an infinite number of combinations, close to people and in confined spaces.

“Current research shows that 80% of logistics facilities today are still manual. Recently, however, technology is just starting to catch up to meet demands for flexible and low-cost robots that could collaboratively work in logistics.”

The next generation of robots can see, respond to their environment and work at precision tasks alongside people. This is on “a fast track powered by the explosion in labour-intensive e-commerce and diminishing and ageing workforces”.

According to DPDHL Group: “Investment from government, venture capitalists and large retailers in several countries is driving a new wave of research that is having significant impact on creating robots with logistics affinity. In addition to the US, China, Russia and Japan, Europe is firmly in the robotics race. With the European Commission’s SPARC program, the EU will invest €700m into robotics research, and a consortium of 180 European companies has pledged an additional €2.1bn by the year 2020.”

Clemens Beckmann, Executive Vice President Innovation, Post – eCommerce – Parcel, Deutsche Post DHL Group, stressed the collaborative nature of the role that DPDHL Group believes robots will play in the logistics industry: “Just like our children can’t picture a world without computers, it is likely that their children will feel the same way about robots. Developing the next generation of robots that can work around and among people will take a substantial investment to advance the technology but at DPDHL Group we believe that soon supply chains will see humans and robots working side by side to handle goods faster and more economically.”