Port Logistics Group and Locus Robotics team up for robot deployment effort

Los Angeles-based Port Logistics Group (PLG), an omnichannel logistics services provider, recently announced it has teamed up with Wilmington, Mass.-based Locus Robotics, a provider of autonomous mobile robots for warehouses for a major initiative at PLG’s facility in Chino, Calif., in which PLG will deploy more than 150 autonomous mobile robots, or LocusBots, for its fulfillment processes.

The companies said that this collaboration will augment warehouse productivity, order pick accuracy, and workplace ergonomics and safety. And they added that PLG and Whiplash, PLG’s end-to-end e-commerce platform are well-positioned to meet the ongoing surge in e-commerce demand, which has been a major theme of 2020 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and seen retailers and merchants looking for ways to meet consumer demand, which is impacted by a retail environment that is often difficult to navigate.

“PLG has been a Locus customer since deploying our solution in its New Jersey warehouse location,” said Karen Leavitt, CMO Locus Robotics, in an interview. “The success they are having at this site led management to further expand the Locus solution to other locations with the same goal in mind: to optimize productivity, lower operations costs, and meet the growing volumes that come with the pandemic and the holiday season. We view PLG as a partner, collaborating and working with them over the long-term as part of an ongoing and continuous cycle of optimization and improvement.” 

Leavitt offered up various examples of the shipper customer benefits of this partnership, explaining that with the increase in e-commerce volume, 3PL fulfillment operations are now even more challenged to balance labor availability and cost challenges while delivering a seamless customer experience.    

As online shopping has increases exponentially vs. brick-and-mortar due to the pandemic, PLG has been seeing peak-level volumes on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “As the holiday volume adds to this increase, the Locus solution lets PLG easily and seamlessly scale up to meet demand, easily optimizing the productivity of their existing labor force and lowering seasonal labor recruiting costs.” 

In terms of the competitive advantages this partnership provides, Leavitt explained that by using the Locus technology PLG is able to deliver higher fulfillment volumes at a lower labor cost versus traditional cart-based or even automated cart style picking. And she added that as volumes fluctuate, the seamless scalability of the Locus system lets them add or reduce LocusBots, as their needs change without affecting their productivity and also noted that additional bots can be easily added at any time as the needs change. 

Looking ahead, Locus Robotics and PLG plan on collaborating in the coming months on deploying dashboard displays in PLG’s Chino, Calif.-based facility. Leavitt said the Locus dashboards are an integral part of the entire Locus solution management suite of tools.

“Displays are visible in the warehouse, allowing management to actively monitor the workload, performance, manage workers productivity – all in real time,” she said. “Workers also benefit by being able to see their efforts reflected in the data and their priorities.”

What’s more, Locus said that it is seeing up to a 15% additional productivity increase in locations where it has installed its dashboard displays.

“In a tight labor market, it is essential that we prioritize employee safety and have the flexibility to creatively deploy our workforce during peak e-commerce periods — especially headed into the holidays,” said Greg Morello, PLG President, in a statement. “This gives our customers a distinct competitive advantage they won’t find anywhere else. If a warehouse shift must be temporarily restructured due to COVID-19 issues or social distancing requirements, we won’t miss a beat and our customers will never see a delay.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman