Transportation and logistics provider XPO Logistics Inc. is bulking up its warehouse automation technology in anticipation of the holiday retail peak, saying today it will extend its use of collaborative robots from 6 River Systems Inc. at various U.S. sites to roll them out in certain U.K. facilities as well.
XPO did not provide any details about the size of its investment, the number of robots, or the sites where they will operate.
Waltham, Massachusetts-based 6 River Systems makes collaborative "Chuck" robots that work alongside warehouse staffers to help manage inventory for distribution. The firm was acquired for $450 million in September by Shopify Inc., an e-commerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
According to XPO, the robots guide employees to the correct inventory area, validate the items picked, and transport them to designated packing stations. The technology uses machine learning to double productivity rates and to improve accuracy by as much as 40% over manual methods, XPO said.
The move is Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO's latest investment in technology, following investments like its 2018 move to deploy 5,000 mobile robots from Singapore-based technology vendor GreyOrange Pte. Ltd. XPO has a $550 million annual innovation budget and has been leveraging that strength to back up its claimed position as "the largest outsourced e-commerce fulfillment provider in Europe."
Proud to roll out @6riversystems #automation we've been using in the US to teams in the UK. We're handling peaks in consumer demand with much higher efficiency thanks to #cobots that complement our employees' work, all in time for the holidays. #ecommerce https://t.co/82n9ZfHbJg pic.twitter.com/0Re4CTxyr9— Mario Harik (@mharik) November 19, 2019