DHL and Crown produce Ohio-bred autonomous forklift technology

Ohio-developed autonomous robot forklifts are now at work in the state, two Ohio companies have announced.

DHL Supply Chain and Crown Equipment recently announced their first U.S. deployment of autonomous forklifts.

Developed in the Buckeye State, Crown’s dual-mode forklifts are capable of switching between manual and automated operation, the New Bremen, Ohio-based company said.

The installation of the technology by DHL into an Ohio facility, represents one of the first installations of the technology in the United States, according to a joint DHL and Crown announcement.

Questions about where the technology is being used were sent to a representative of the businesses.

But this is the result of a collaboration between DHL Supply Chain, with its North American headquarters in Westerville, Ohio, and Crown Equipment with JBT Corp.

“Given Ohio’s history of innovation, it made sense to make the state the site of our first deployment of this new technology in the warehouse,” said Brian Gaunt, senior director, accelerated digitalization, DHL Supply Chain North America. “Our manual forklifts travel an estimated 25 million miles per year in our facilities, which makes pallet movement an excellent candidate for automation.”

The installation features Crown R 1000 Series DualMode reach trucks fitted with JBT Automated Systems robotics technology.

Equipped with the ability to operate 24/7/365, the autonomous forklift range spans six levels (27 feet) high and two pallets deep for putaway and retrieval, with a high degree of speed and precision especially at levels three and above, the companies said.

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

“Given our strong relationship with DHL Supply Chain and its reputation as a leader in innovation, it was a natural fit for us to work with the company on its first U.S. installation of our DualMode reach trucks,” said Jim Gaskell, director of global automation and emerging technologies, Crown Equipment.

The bottom line, according to the companies: Pick and putaway times from the autonomous forklifts are driving a 20 percent increase in efficiency, and these reach trucks deliver 98 percent or better reliability.

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