- Maersk is deploying autonomous drones throughout warehouses to help shippers better track inventory, the logistics provider announced Monday.
- The drones, supplied by manufacturer Verity, take photos of SKUs on pallets to identify potential inventory errors. The bots compare their findings with data stored in the warehouse management system, then distill the information into insights for shippers.
- Drones are already in use at four sites, a Maersk spokesperson told Supply Chain Dive in an email. The logistics conglomerate hopes to integrate the tech at all of its warehouses with palletized storage.
Verity’s drones will aid inventory management at large distribution centers that contain towering stacks of palletized inventory, reducing the need for workers to work at heights. The bots can scan barcodes at any height and can operate on nights or weekends when staff members are away from the facility.
“As a supply chain integrator, we are constantly looking for new innovations and engineering solutions in our warehouse operations,” Erez Agmoni, senior vice president of innovation & strategic growth for Maersk North America, said in a statement. “Verity’s system has delivered data accuracy, safety and speed which makes our warehouse management system stronger, faster and more effective for customer decision-making.”
Efforts to deploy drones began six months ago, and the company is working on deployment plans for 2023, Maersk Media Relations Manager Thomas Boyd said in an email.
But Maersk declined to specify where drones have been deployed.
While Performance Team, a warehouse operator acquired by Maersk in 2020, had deployed the drones at its Miami locale for the initial pilot, the drones are no longer operational, Boyd confirmed in a call.
"The [drones'] cloud-based software helps easily integrate with the WMS system," Boyd said. "This means less handling as a user and integration is attractive in terms of inventory."
Logistics provider DSV and Ikea owner Ingka Group have also relied on Verity drones to manage their inventory. Ingka Group uses the tech when stores are closed on Sundays to prevent customer service disruptions, Verity said on its site.
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify drones are no longer operational at the Maersk facility in Miami that piloted the technology.