Sam’s Club stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will be receiving regular deliveries of paper goods via self-driving trucks under a partnership between autonomous vehicle provider Gatik, transportation and logistics specialist KBX, and paper products manufacturer Georgia-Pacific.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Gatik said yesterday that, through the collaboration, it will automate part of the Georgia-Pacific/KBX on-road transportation network in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, delivering paper goods 24/7 to 34 Sam’s Club locations. Georgia-Pacific’s consumer products include bath tissue, paper towels and napkins, and tableware under brands such as Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Dixie, enMotion, Sparkle and Vanity Fair.
The operations entail moving Georgia-Pacific shipments from point to point on preset short-haul routes using an autonomous vehicle fleet with 26-foot boxes. According to Gatik, the partnership marks the first time that Class 6 autonomous box trucks were deployed to disrupt short-haul logistics networks typically using Class 8 trucks.
“Our partnership with Georgia-Pacific and KBX is poised to transform regional distribution architecture that has traditionally relied on class 8 platforms,” Gatik CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang said in a statement. “By integrating our Class 6 autonomous solution into KBX’s sophisticated infrastructure across Dallas-Fort Worth, Gatik will be able to deliver Georgia-Pacific products to a vast network of Sam’s Club locations with unparalleled reliability, speed and consistency.”
Plans call for the autonomous transports with Sam’s and Georgia-Pacific to begin in July 2022. The replacement of traditional tractor trailers with self-driving box trucks is expected to bring a more responsive and flexible logistics network, stepping up the pace of delivery runs and the flow of goods while reining in logistics costs and providing near real-time inventory fulfillment, Gatik noted.
“We are looking forward to testing this transformational technology to deliver Georgia-Pacific brands like Quilted Northern bath tissue and Dixie products to Sam’s Clubs,” commented Hayes Shimp, vice president of sales for Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific. “Once proven, we believe autonomous deliveries will enable us to remove cost and complexity from the supply chain so that we can better serve Sam’s Club, and their members.”
Gatik added that its multiyear commercial partnership with Georgia-Pacific and KBX in Dallas-Fort Worth represent a hyper-efficient and customer-centric model that addresses changing consumer behavior via higher asset utilization in the “middle mile” of the supply chain. Gatik opened its autonomous trucking facility in Texas last year.
“KBX is focused on providing services that increase capacity and reduce costs in a safe, efficient way for the customers we serve,” stated Paul Snider, president of Green Bay, Wis.-based KBX. “Our partnership with Gatik will enable us to redefine the traditional Class 8 short-haul market and deliver Georgia-Pacific goods with even greater speed and efficiency. We’re excited to see these operations form the foundation of KBX’s autonomous vehicle program as we prepare for wider-scale adoption of autonomous trucks to meet customer demand.”
Sam’s Club parent Walmart already has been working with Gatik on middle-mile solutions. In November, Walmart said it began piloting fully autonomous daily deliveries — i.e. without a safety driver — along a two-mile route between a “dark” Supercenter in Rogers, Ark., and a Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Ark., using Gatik multi-temperature, self-driving box trucks. Walmart first partnered with Gatik in a July 2019 middle-mile delivery pilot that used autonomous vans.
Loblaw Cos., Canada’s largest grocer, also has teamed with Gatik on autonomous delivery. In January 2021, Loblaw Cos. began deploying a fleet of Gatik autonomous delivery vehicles in Toronto to provide short-haul, middle-mile logistics for its PC Express online grocery service. Gatik, which supplies the self-driving technology under a multiyear partnership with Loblaw, said the rollout marked the first autonomous delivery fleet in Canada.