DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics arm of Deutsche Post DHL Group, is now operating a fully-automated robot picking system at a logistics centre in Staufenberg, Germany.
In its announcement, DHL said the system, AutoStore, is made by robot maker Element Logic. It covers 6,000 square meters, making it one of the largest fully-automated storage and order fulfilment systems in Germany.
The facility — which DHL operates for various customers — is located in one of the five halls at the location, each of which offers 10,000 square meters of space and 50 loading bays.
DHL noted that nationwide e-commerce for fashion retailer Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf is just one focus of DHL Supply Chain's operations in Staufenberg.
The location also ships merchandise to end customers in Austria, Poland and the Netherlands.
The centre handles inbound new merchandise and returns, the warehousing of 3.5 million fashion items, order picking and packing, and the shipping of the goods to end customers.
"The AutoStore system there allows merchandise inventory to be fully monitored and controlled, ensuring high efficiency in storage and retrieval," the logistics giant said, adding that this enables customer orders to be processed and shipped with greater speed and reliability.
It added that the interplay of the "flexible and modularly" expandible robotics solution with the local employees reduces throughput times for individual customer orders, from order placement to dispatch from the warehouse, simplifies operational processes for employees, and increases operating efficiency.
DHL said the basis of the system is a 16-level high aluminium framework in which inventory is stacked and stored in 196,000 plastic bins.
Above the bins, the aluminium framework forms a structure called the "grid."
The robots, 160 of them, use the grid to manoeuvre while picking the items for each individual order fully automatically. The goods are then further processed and prepared for shipping by their human counterparts at 21 "ports".
"We are thrilled to facilitate the omnichannel growth of a long-time customer like Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf with the help of this automated solution," said Rainer Haag, CEO of DHL Supply Chain Germany & Alps.
"It enhances our partnership and is an investment in the future success of both our companies. E-commerce is one of DHL Supply Chain's strategic growth sectors. The use of this system is another important building block in the expansion of our e-commerce business and automation strategy," Haag said, adding that, on average, the DHL unit can deliver 85% of parcels by the next day to recipients in Germany.
Marco Rebohm, managing director of Mode Logistik GmbH & Co. KG, also welcomed the benefits of the AutoStore fulfilment system in Staufenberg.
"This type of solution enables us to better meet the needs and expectations of our customers," he said. "And the higher speed and reliability of the system makes it possible for us to easily handle our steadily growing order volumes."
"Our vision is to be the leading multi-brand omnichannel retailer for fashion in Europe by 2026, and AutoStore is an important milestone on that path," Rebohm added.