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Supply Chain

Logistics giant XPO and robotics vendor Balyo partner on autonomous reach forklifts

by Louis Stone
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Testing Linde trucks at a distribution center in France

American transport and logistics company XPO Logistics is trialing a reach truck from robotics specialist Balyo.

The test, currently underway at an XPO distribution center near Blois, France, aims to see how the robotic systems perform in real-life conditions.

A robotics roll-out by XPO would be a major vote of confidence in the technology – the company serves 50,000 customers worldwide, including 69 of the Fortune 100, and employs more than 100,000 people.

Humans not required

Reach trucks are narrow-aisle, right-angle stacking trucks, best used for storing and retrieving racked pallets.

Balyo uses Linde/R-Matic R16HD reach trucks, which rely on sensors, lasers, and 3D cameras to detect pallet openings and loads, as well as obstacles – such as humans. Should it detect danger, the truck sounds a 'protective bellow' to raise an alarm.

Balyo's autonomous system is compatible with the Linde machines, as well as autonomous mobile robots built by Sherpa, and tuggers from Hyster.

"We’re working closely with XPO to enhance our latest robotic reach technology for their state-of-the-art distribution centers," Balyo CEO Pascal Rialland said.

"Our collaboration validates the performance of our autonomous robots in specific applications in order to deliver the greatest benefit to XPO’s operations."

The trucks in the pilot program can move 10-20 pallets per hour, reach up to 11 meters in height, and maneuver through 2.9 meter wide aisles.

“The pilots leverage our longstanding relationship with XPO and our exciting partnership with Balyo,” said Holger Böhme, VP for international key accounts at Linde Material Handling.

“Together, we’re advancing efficient logistics operations and technologies to deliver significant benefits every day.”

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