CMA CGM's Logistics Arm Deploys Container-Unpacking Robot

Package handling robot
Image courtesy Boston Dynamics

Published Oct 12, 2023 11:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

CEVA, the warehousing and logistics arm of French container liner CMA CGM, plans to use robots from U.S. firm Boston Dynamics at a new transload facility near the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the biggest import gateways for the U.S. consumer market. 

The transload facility was built for sorting packages at high speed. It will be among the first in the U.S. to employ Boston Dynamics' robots for package-handling, Stretch. 

The Stretch robot is purpose-built for unloading non-palletized shipping containers, even when the boxes inside have fallen over, according to Boston Dynamics. With little direction, it can enter a container, pick up boxes weighing up to 50 pounds with its suction-cup arm, and set them gently on a conveyor. The 2022 production run sold out with purchases from trial-phase customers like DHL, and the first commercial units have already moved more than one million boxes. At some customer sites, Stretch robots are handling all inbound floor-loaded containers, according to the manufacturer. 

Early adopters say that they like the robot because it doesn't need breaks, works in all weather conditions and isn't susceptible to injuries from handling high-stacked heavy boxes. With a 16-hour battery pack, it can work two shifts before recharging. 

With the addition of Stretch, CEVA hopes to process 50,000 floor-loaded containers a year at the Los Angeles plant within three years of opening. 

CEVA is also buying Boston Dynamics' famous robotic dog, Spot, for security patrols at the Los Angeles facility. The quadrupedal robot can carry a variety of payloads and with more than 1,000 sold, it has become a familiar sight in some industries.