Robots in warehouses have long had what might be called a failure to communicate. DHL Supply Chain is trying to solve the problem with a new software platform aimed at integrating automation systems more quickly in its distribution centers, the WSJ’s Jared Council writes, the latest in a range of efforts logistics operators are undertaking to make their robots more efficient. The system called Robotics Hub is built on technology designed by logistics software company Blue Yonder and works effectively like a training program for new hires, helping communicate with fellow workers and coordinate activities across warehouses.DHL estimates that integrating a new robotics fleet at a warehouse can take more than three months, a long stretch as companies look to rapidly scale up automation to deal with the impact of the coronavirus on operations. That includes adding robotic labor that won’t be taken down by Covid.
One of the world’s biggest food suppliers is bracing for another surge in coronavirus cases with months of experience in hand. David MacLennan, chief executive of Cargill, tells the WSJ’s Jacob Bunge the Minnesota-based company has reconfigured its operations and its supply chains during the pandemic and now isn’t seeing disruptions, “certainly not like there were back in April and May.”Mr. MacLennan says one beef facility is running at 98% of capacity but that Cargill isn’t experiencing the kind of big spikes in cases that it did in the spring, even as coronavirus cases are growing at rapid rates around the U.S. The company has adjusted its supply chain repeatedly during the crisis, and expects some changes to outlast the pandemic. Even in a safer world, he says, people will be more likely to entertain at home in smaller groups, in ways that call for more home meal preparation.