Locus Robotics has signed what it claimed to be one of the largest deployments of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) ever. The Wilmington, Mass.-based company will deploy 1,000 of its AMRs at warehouses for GEODIS over the next 24 months.
GEODIS is a leading global transport and logistics provider and has used Locus’ AMRs since 2018, when it first deployed them at a site in Indiana. The global third-party logistics company (3PL) has currently deployed Locus AMRs at 14 sites around the world, serving a variety of retail and consumer brands, including warehouses in the U.S and Europe. At press time, Locus hadn’t provided how many of its AMRs GEODIS will have overall after these 1,000 are deployed.
Locus said it doesn’t have concrete evidence this is one of the largest AMR deals ever. The claim is based on feedback from a variety of sources, including investors, potential customers, and other avenues. But the claim is likely well-founded. Most robotics companies, especially those that are privately owned, rarely disclose information such as revenue, units operating in the field or even the number of customers. It’s rare to hear any robotics company sign a deal for 1,000 units with a single customer.
“[Fifty] robots was a large deployment for us 2-3 years ago,” said Al Dekin, Locus’ chief revenue officer. “Now we have many, many sites with hundreds of bots on multiple floors. But you have to earn that right.”
Locus has a number of high-profile customers, perhaps none more so than DHL. The companies have worked together since 2017, when DHL piloted Locus’ AMRs to support associates in piece-picking order fulfillment. DHL now runs more than a dozen sites in North America that use 2,000-plus Locus AMRs. DHL Supply Chain recently announced that it had picked more than 100 million units in its North American facilities using Locus AMRs.
Locus has three models of AMRs in its portfolio. It has the Locus Origin, the original model which is designed for collaborative, high-volume order fulfillment with a payload capacity of 80 lb. With its recent acquisition of Waypoint Robotics, Locus added two heavy-duty AMRs to its lineup: Vector, which can carry up to 600 lb., and Max, which features an industrial strength chassis to move up to 3,000 lb.
The new contract with GEODIS is strictly for the Locus Origin AMRs. However, Dekin said Locus and GEODIS are actively discussing new use cases and form factors. GEODIS also works with other mobile robot developers on different applications and in different geographic locations. For example, it works with Geek+ in China and has worked with Vecna Robotics.
“The idea when acquiring the larger Waypoint robots was to seamlessly integrate them into our broader solution set,” said Dekin. “We wanted customers to see that they could take advantage of the same core benefits of Locus Origin, but just do it with bigger stuff. The reception we’ve received from the marketplace has proven that theory to be correct.”
Locus’ AMRs have helped GEODIS e-commerce warehouses better manage order picking and inventory replenishment, increasing throughput and speeding delivery processes. Locus said it has helped GEODIS reduce unproductive walking time, eliminate maneuvering heavy manual carts through warehouses, lower the physical demands on employees, and improve workplace ergonomics and quality.
“As we continue to navigate industry-wide challenges such as skyrocketing e-commerce demand and labor constraints, it is crucial we remain committed to implementing the most innovative and effective robotics solutions available into our warehouses to allow us to best serve our customers,” said Eric Douglas, executive vice president of technology and engineering at GEODIS in the Americas. “Locus’ collaborative multi-bot approach has proven its effectiveness and reliability at each of our sites, giving us the ability to easily scale performance while providing a safe, smart working environment for our teammates. This new expansion agreement reinforces our clear and ongoing commitment to cutting-edge technology to meet our exploding customer volumes globally.”
Locus recently completed and documented its first Service Organization Control 2 (SOC2) audit. A SOC 2 audit documents an organization’s business processes and determines compliance with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) guidelines.
Dekin said the growing relationship with GEODIS has affirmed Locus’ go-to-market strategy.
“We don’t look at this as just building robots or just a solution,” he said. “We focus on building a company. I’ve been here since the very beginning and appreciate the fact that what we have now has been built on learning, input and contributions from our customers. In the early days, we were happy to have 5-6 robots in the corner of a warehouse. Now when somebody says they want to start with locus, we’re no longer piloting. We’re deploying. For those of us who have been around for a number of years, we’ve done that already. Clearly, we’re in the expansion phase.”