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Wärtsilä, DHL test mobile robots for warehouse operations

LBR Staff Writer Published 12 July 2017

Technology group Wärtsilä and DHL have successfully completed a pilot program, which involved testing of mobile robots for warehouse operations.

The partnership tested mobile robots of Fetch Robotics at Wärtsilä’s central distribution centre in Kampen, Netherlands.

Mobile robots were used in the logistics chain of Wärtsilä’s spare parts to manage operations ranging from order intake to customer delivery.

DHL will manage all the warehouse operations, as it is the partner of Wärtsilä.

The project has been piloted to investigate possibilities to use the latest technology innovations in the daily operations of the warehouse.

The mobile robot system is said to simplify point to point material handling. Through touchscreen, workers can interact with the robots and send them on their journeys with a push of a button.

With a loading capacity of 78kg, the autonomous mobile robots hold capacity to cover a distance of 2m per second.

The freight robot independently can make its way to the charging unit, when the battery life of maximum nine hours comes to an end.

The intelligent robots, which will recognise their location and surroundings, can differentiate between dynamic and static obstacles to work safely with and around people.

Wärtsilä’s central distribution centre will be used for goods reception, quality inspection, storage, packaging and shipping of spare parts for the firm’s engines and other products.

DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation robotics accelerator lead Denis Niezgoda said: “Our colleagues took centre stage during the trial. 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 per day, thereby increasing productivity and safety within the warehouse working environment.”

Fetch Robotics CEO Melonee Wise said: “We were able to deploy our robots in the facility in a matter of days, rapidly improve on-site productivity, while increasing the safety of the warehouse employees.”

Image: The central distribution centre of Wärtsilä Global Logistics Services in Kampen, Netherlands. Photo: courtesy of Wärtsilä.