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DHL completes mobile robot trial in Netherlands


DHL and technology group Wärtsilä have revealed the successful completion of a pilot of mobile robots from Fetch Robotics in the company’s central distribution centre in Kampen, the Netherlands.
The warehouse manages Wärtsilä’s spare parts business, from order intake to customer delivery, and is run by DHL.

The pilot looked at how such robots could be used to improve the daily operations of the warehouse and to see how humans and robots worked together. Workers can interact with the robots via touchscreen and send them on their journeys with a push of a button.

“Our colleagues took centre stage during the trial,” said Denis Niezgoda, robotics accelerator lead, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “The robots are designed to work alongside employees and to relieve them from physically strenuous tasks. The robots alone took over a walking distance of more than 30 kilometres a day, thereby increasing productivity and safety within the warehouse working environment,” he said.

The autonomous mobile robots have a loading capacity of 78 kilogrammes and can cover a distance of two meters per second. When the battery life of maximum nine hours comes to an end, the freight robot independently makes its way to the charging unit. The intelligent robots recognise their location and surroundings and can differentiate between dynamic and static obstacles, thus enabling evasive action to work safely with and around people.

Thanks to the success of the pilot the company plans to look further at the opportunities for robotics in its logistics and warehouse environment. “The pilot was a success and, as a result, we have decided to continue exploring and developing new applications of smart mobile robot technology,” said Anne Träskbäck, general manager, parts delivery at Wärtsilä Services. “Over the coming months, we will continue to trial different robot types and technologies together with our partners to further improve productivity, quality and safety in our operations,” she said. “We have exciting times ahead. Working with robots means embracing a new change, and co-operating in new, productive ways in the future.”

A video about the trial can be accessed via

Image credit: DHL

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