03/14/2016, 10:00 AM CET

Collaborative robots will transform logistics

Deutsche Post DHL Group launched a new Trend Report "Robotics in Logistics" revealing how collaborative robots will affect supply chains.

The report highlights that the development of the next generation of robots is on a fast track.

  • Deutsche Post DHL Group sees robotics technology on the verge of large scale relevance for logistics
  • DHL's latest Trend Report reviews current state of robotics in the logistics industry and offers visionary outlook on transformed supply chains
  • Pilots with first prototypes already underway
  • First Robotics Day at DHL's Innovation Center in Germany to share insights

Bonn - Deutsche Post DHL Group is approaching a point in time where robots are going to become essential in the world of logistics. The Group launched a new Trend Report "Robotics in Logistics" revealing how collaborative robots will affect supply chains. Robotics technology may soon be picking, packing and moving goods in the logistics environment.

Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, said: "Robots work in many industries but haven't made an impact on logistics yet because of the complexity of the work - handling a wide array of different things in an infinite number of combinations, close to people and in confined spaces. Current research shows that 80 percent of logistics facilities today are still manual. Recently, however, technology is just starting to catch up to meet demands for flexible and low-cost robots that could collaboratively work in logistics."

Robots will soon be standard in warehouses around the world

The report highlights that the development of the next generation of robots that can see, move, react to their environment and work at precision tasks alongside people, is on a fast track powered by the explosion in labor-intensive e-commerce and diminishing and ageing workforces.

As a result, investment from government, venture capitalists and large retailers in several countries is driving a new wave of research that is having significant impact on creating robots with logistics affinity. In addition to the US, China, Russia and Japan, Europe is firmly in the robotics race. With the European Commission's SPARC program, the EU will invest EUR700 million into robotics research, and a consortium of 180 European companies has pledged an additional EUR2.1 billion by the year 2020.

Clemens Beckmann, Executive Vice President Innovation, Post - eCommerce - Parcel, Deutsche Post DHL Group, said: "Just like our children can't picture a world without computers, it is likely that their children will feel the same way about robots. Developing the next generation of robots that can work around and among people will take a substantial investment to advance the technology but at DPDHL Group we believe that soon supply chains will see humans and robots working side by side to handle goods faster and more economically."

Results of prototype testing to be shared at Deutsche Post DHL Robotics Day

DPDHL Group has already started testing how robotics could further play a role in logistics. The Group trials collaborative robots in selected warehouse sites to find solutions for transforming supply chains. The speed of technological progress is increasing rapidly with new advancements and breakthroughs occurring almost daily. The outlook for robotics is very exciting and the world of logistics will benefit from the coming developments in robotic technology. The insights of the tests will be shared at the Group's first Robotics Day on April 7 at the DHL Innovation Center in Germany, bringing together the leading minds in robotics. The day, which will focus on how humans and advanced robots could work side by side, will also feature tangible state-of-the art exhibitions of leading robotics companies.

The Trend Report "Robotics in Logistics" includes insights and updates from leading academics and practitioners from the fields of advanced robotics, and has been created as part of the overarching Logistics Trend Radar, which DHL uses to identify and leverage trends and technologies relevant for the logistics industry.