Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DB Schenker deploys autonomous forklift truck

Steve Rogerson
January 28, 2020



German logistics provider DB Schenker has started regular operations of an autonomous forklift truck following a successful pilot project.
 
The forklift from Austrian supplier Agilox transports empty containers over a distance of around 150m at the Eching site near Munich. This is done completely without the intervention of a warehouse associate. Previously, this operation was carried out with conventional forklift trucks.
 
“Autonomous forklift trucks promise innovation, precision and efficiency for the benefit of our customers,” said Xavier Garijo, member of the board for contract logistics at Schenker. “DB Schenker is always open to alternatives in warehouse logistics. However, our most important asset is always our highly qualified employees; without them, we would not be one of the world's leading logistics service providers today. For this reason, we want to relieve them by automating some logistics processes, especially since there is currently a shortage of skilled workers in logistics at the labour market.”
 
The Agilox is equipped with a height-adjustable fork that can be used to lift and lower containers. It is therefore not necessary for the warehouse staff to place the containers manually on the automated guided vehicle (AGV). The Agilox can also record a surrounding map for navigation within the site in a short time. This means the use of the AGV can begin just a few days after delivery.
 
"The robots can take over simple tasks in the warehouse, meaning employees can concentrate on more complex tasks, especially at peak times,” said Franz Humer, CEO and co-founder of Agilox. “We look forward to many more successful projects with DB Schenker throughout Europe.”
 
With the help of intelligent software, DB Schenker associates can also set up operating areas and safety zones, for example, or mark storage and parking areas. Precise sensors and cameras ensure the forklift recognises and avoids obstacles in good time.
 
At the site in Eching, DB Schenker supplies vehicle parts for the production of a German car maker. It is now being examined whether the Agilox can also be used at other locations of the logistics service provider.
 
With over 75,800 employees at more than 2000 locations in over 130 countries, Schenker operates land, air and ocean transportation services.