Transportation and logistics provider XPO Logistics Inc. has unveiled a cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) platform designed to support the quick launch of robotics-based distribution centers.
Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO said its "WMx" platform will enable the rapid deployment and integration of automation and robotics at a fraction of traditional startup times.
The company said that because the WMS is based in the cloud instead of running on servers inside each facility, users can make software updates in real time, enhance apps and other programs at a rapid pace, and support mobile devices. Other than that, XPO revealed little about the platform's development. It was announced on Wednesday.
XPO is marketing the platform to users with multi-site and multi-channel environments, XPO Chief Operating Officer Troy Cooper said in a statement. The platform provides connectivity between multiple supply chain elements by combining them into a single application, providing distributed order management (DOM), configurability, and dashboard tools that analyze trends and guide decision-making, he said.
One example of a facility deploying robotic material handling technology is XPO's site at Boigny-sur-Bionne, near Orléans, France. XPO manages the facility for Mars, the agri-food giant, using robotic automation to accommodate up to 10 million packages a year, XPO said in a Feb. 13 statement. The temperature-controlled facility features 17,200 square feet of mechanized operations handling Mars products, including Pedigree pet food, Twix and Snickers chocolate bars, Skittles and Freedent chewing gum, and Uncle Ben's rice.
XPO did not specify whether the French warehouse uses its WMx software platform, but said it had teamed with automated handling and storage systems designer Alstef to equip that operation with a robot that can prepare 50,000 to 60,000 packages per day, working continuously while minimizing errors.
The robot's articulated arm uses grippers and a pneumatic system to pick up as many as five stacks of packages at one time to assemble pallets with multiple product codes, according to XPO.