- DHL Supply Chain is planning to open four more automated warehouses in a move to further digitize its global warehousing operations, according to a Nov. 7 press release.
- The third-party logistics provider currently operates nine automated warehouses around the world, including four U.S. sites in Memphis, Tennessee; Fort Worth, Texas; Indianapolis and Atlanta. The warehouses use an automated storage and retrieval systems from AutoStore, a warehouse technology company.
- DHL now uses more than 1,000 AutoStore robots throughout its global fulfillment warehouse network. In addition to the four new warehouses currently planned, the company eventually plans to build five more sites.
DHL Supply Chain continues to double down on using automation in its warehouses as a way to boost operational efficiency and throughput.
With AutoStore, the third-party logistics provider aims to cut in half the time it takes to implement a new warehouse system. It plans to do so by leveraging the automated storage and retrieval system, which is comprised of robots and bins.
"These bins are stacked and piled on top of each other, holding the items stored and the robots then “retrieve” these bins and bring them to a port so that the associate can take out the item and send the bin back to be stored … aka “storage and retrieval," Omer Rashid, DHL’s vice president of operations development in automation, innovation and analytics told Supply Chain Dive in an email.
The automated technology may be a viable e-commerce tool for handling small products including fashion and tech items, according to the press release.
Other companies who have deployed robots to speed operations include Kraft Heinz, which plans to build a $400 million automated distribution center in Illinois. The center will include a fully automated storage and retrieval system capable of operating 24/7.
Walmart opened its third "next-gen" fulfillment center in Texas in October, equipped with an automated, high-density storage and retrieval system, which reduced the retailer’s 12-step fulfillment process to five.
The advantage of using the technology is the "density of inventory" it can handle, working well in tight warehouse spaces, Rashid said.
"AutoStore’s standardized and modular technology perfectly aligns with our aim to make our operations more efficient, enabling swift scalability and adaptability across various use cases and end-markets – a crucial factor for us as a third-party logistics provider," COO and CIO at DHL Supply Chain Markus Voss said in the release.