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Jobless Future: DHL will invest $300 million to quadruple robots in warehouses in 2019

DHL Supply Chain, a logistics division of DHL, today announced it will invest $300 million to modernize 60 percent of its warehouses in North America with more IoT sensors and robots. Robotic process automation, and software made to reduce workflow interruptions will also play a role.

Such technology is already in operation in 85 DHL facilities, or roughly 20 percent of warehouses across North America. Funding announced today will bring emerging technology to 350 of DHL Supply Chain’s 430 operating sites. The company has more than 35,000 employees in North America.

Robots from companies like Locus Robotics that were made to collaborate with humans to fulfill orders are currently being used in some of DHL’s more modern facilities, but no specific vendor or company has been selected to supply robots as part of the new initiative, DHL Supply Chain North America CEO Scott Sureddin told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

Conversations are ongoing with more than 25 robotics and process automation industry leaders, DHL Supply Chain president of retail Jim Gehr said. DHL Supply Chain warehouse robots will work primarily with unit picking operations and will be able to complete a range of tasks, from collaborative piece picking, to shuttling items from one side of a factory to another, to following human packers.

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