- XPO Logistics announced Wednesday it would deploy 5,000 collaborative robots at facilities in North America and Europe, in an exclusive manufacturing partnership with GreyOrange.
- "This allows us to dramatically improve fulfillment time and cut costs," XPO CEO Bradley Jacobs said in a statement. "These are important benefits to our customers — particularly in the e-commerce and omnichannel retail sectors, where order speed and accuracy are essential ways to compete."
- The robots, a spokesperson said, improve inventory count accuracy by "close to 100%" and can pick 200 to 300 units per hour, a "dramatic increase" from manual pick rates of 50 to 80 units per hour. They also reduce worker walk-time "by nearly 80% and eliminate almost all heavy lifting."
XPO is betting robots can help address one of the top structural issues retail logistics providers face in the modern age: a need for speed amid high volumes and a tight labor market.
"We expect these robots to help us bring down the average fulfillment time to between 20 minutes and 40 minutes from what previously took hours," a spokesperson said in an email to Supply Chain Dive.
The reduced walk-time and the robots' ability to lift heavy items — they can move racks weighing between 1,000 to 3,500 pounds — should also help with employee recruitment and retention, according to the spokesperson. Meanwhile, the technology's autonomous nature will help keep workers safe.
"The robots do their job automatically without supervision. They roll right up to a charging station before they run out of juice," the spokesperson said. "Instead of tracks or cables, it uses high-tech laser beams and cameras. We can customize the way it operates using our warehouse management system."
It's not the first time XPO has embraced emerging technology as a solution to logistics challenges. In June, the company announced it was working with Nestlé to build a "warehouse of the future," that would serve as a "testbed" for new technologies. The latest partnership with GreyOrange is part of a $450 million technology investment project.