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06/29/2021

ADUSA Supply Chain expands ‘exosuit’ rollout

The supply chain network for Ahold Delhaize USA will deploy 250 wearable roobotic suits that reduce the physical demands facing associates in distribution centers.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Increasing the safety and effectiveness of the Ahold Delhaize USA supply chain, ADUSA Supply Chain is deploying an AI-powered wearable technology — the “exosuit” — at scale.

The retailer’s supply chain arm previously piloted the suit and over the past year saw millions of associates using the product and based on positive feedback are rolling out 250 suits to its affiliated distribution centers.

The ADUSA Supply Chain network also recently said it is close to being 85% self-distributed.

Verve Motion is a technology company that created the wearable robotic systems called “exosuits.” The company’s artificial intelligence-enabled system is the first lightweight, powered soft exosuit designed for industrial workers. It reduces strain on a selector’s back by 30% to 40% during a typical workday, making each 22-pound item feel more like 14 pounds, a reduction that adds up over time. During the pilot, the vast majority of those using exosuits reported less fatigue and soreness, as well as better posture.

“Selecting product in a distribution center is very physical work, and not only is it very physical, but it’s also critical,” said Chris Lewis, president, ADUSA Supply Chain. “The associates in grocery distribution centers are nothing short of superheroes who keep product flowing through the supply chain to physical and digital store shelves and ultimately to consumers’ tables. This has never been further demonstrated than during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re proud to pilot solutions like this one that enable us and our partners to care for the workforce in distribution centers by helping associates reduce fatigue, work more effectively and reduce the likelihood of injuries.”   

The suit can be put on in under 30 seconds, and automatically adapts to the user and task. It also has ample battery life, so it can be used for an entire shift, including overtime. Earlier this year, ADUSA Supply Chain sister company Retail Business Services launched a pilot of UV disinfection robots from Ava Robotics in two of its affiliated distribution centers to aid in enhanced cleaning procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Scarborough, Maine-based ADUSA Supply Chain is a family of supply chain companies that together support one of the largest supply chains on the East Coast, serving the omnichannel grocery brands of Ahold Delhaize USA — Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford, and Stop & Shop, through a self-distribution model.