Robotics have found a lot of success in the shipping and warehouse fulfillment categories for their ability to give logistics companies an edge in timing. Amazon is probably the best and most prominent example, with more than 200,000 robots currently deployed in its centers across the U.S.
As the retail giant has shifted expectations to next and same-day deliveries, competitors and partners have looked for an edge, with many turning to third-party robotics. Shipping giant DHL has been looking to robotics companies. In late 2018, the company’s North American wing announced its plan to invest $300 million in robotics and automation across 350 facilities.
A partner since 2017, Locus Robotics is reaping some of that windfall. DHL this week committed to deploying a total of 1,000 LocusBots from the Massachusetts-based startup. In spite of some large investments, it still feels like a drop in the bucket of the company’s overall footprint, expanding the robots’ locations from two to 12 sites in the coming year.
Clearly the shipping company does have good things to say about how the pilot has run so far.
“DHL Supply Chain’s initial implementation of the Locus solution within the life sciences and retail sectors was a tremendous success; we saw increases in fulfillment productivity of up to 80% in selected customer operations,” DHL retail president Jim Gehr said in a release. “We now see an opportunity to extend the benefits of utilizing their highly flexible AMR solution at scale for customers across multiple sectors. We look forward to continuing to work with Locus to drive productivity, support capacity growth and deliver continuous improvement within our customers’ supply chains nationwide.”
Locus Robotics is one of about 25 robotics companies DHL had plans to partner with when its initial investments were announced in 2018. The startup raised a $26 million Series C in April of last year.