Features

Delivering a better customer experience with dimensioning technology

As the number of parcels being moved through Australia’s supply chain network increases, having the ability to accurately measure the dimension and weight of a parcel is providing significant benefits for some of the nation’s largest third-party logistics providers.

In early 2020 Australia Post reported strong growth across its parcels division resulting in the highest revenue growth in over a decade for the business.

This was before e-commerce numbers reached a record high as a result of COVID-19 restrictions forcing physical shops to close their doors to consumers.

With letter revenue down nine, the nation’s postal service continues to shift its focus to parcel processing and is investing in automation capabilities to meet the ever-increasing demand of the e-commerce consumer.

With a significant increase in parcels moving through Australia’s supply chain network, there is a need to be able to provide accuracy regarding the dimensioning and weighing of the parcels.

“As Australia Post and many other 3PLs shift their business towards sorting and delivering more parcels, there is an increased requirement to have accurate scanning and inventory capabilities,” Jean-Michel Maclou, Intralogistics and Transport Sales Manager at SICK says.

SICK has seen significant growth in the demand of its dimensioning, weighing and scanning solutions across its key customers in the 3PL space.

According to Jean-Michel, revenue recovery plays a huge role in this requirement. “Often businesses rely on customer-declared weights and dimensions to calculate charges, which are often inaccurate, often rounding a number off or down and it’s the 3PL that then has to carry this cost,” he says.

With so many retailers now investing and developing their e-commerce capabilities, Jean-Michel says this is a huge opportunity for 3PL providers.

“Only a few weeks back we saw Myer sign a three-year deal with Australia Post to manage its online fulfilment, my view is that we will see more and more retailers outsource this part of their supply chain in the coming months,” Jean-Michel says.

A 3PL must ensure that they can provide full visibility of the stock is in the warehouse for a number of different customers. They must have accurate data of what it looks like, weighs and where it is located.

SICK’s Dimensioning, Weighing and Scanning systems (DWS) offer this visibility and accuracy. “The product code, what type of product it is and the barcode are all captured and communicated straight into the Warehouse Management System (WMS),” he says.

A further issue with 3PLs is that goods can arrive damaged, but with DWS capabilities, as soon as a product enters the warehouse an image is taken ensuring there is no dispute over when the damage occurred. The camera also has the ability to take a black and white image of every side of the box, giving five different images in one and a complete view of the entire parcel.

Additionally, as we import more goods from different parts of Asia, sometimes the quality of the label is not up to Australian standards. But with the ability to utilise camera technology, there is a much higher capability to read some of the poor-quality barcodes.

DWS solutions play a crucial role in the overall running of a state-of-the-art warehouse. “Lots of 3PLs have invested in large-scale automation to provide more efficient handling and an increased speed to market. A critical role within this kind of offering is accurate inventory management,” Jean Michel says.

When choosing a 3PL, a retailer will want to know what kind of capabilities they offer regarding accuracy and real-time information. SICK’s DWS technology ensures that there is consistent scanning, dimension and weighing of any products so that everyone in the supply chain is given full visibility, including the customer.

“Once the parcel is moved from a racking system and onto the conveyor it can be sorted very quickly and allocated to the suitable location. From here, the parcel is accurately tracked until it reaches the end customer,” Jean-Michel says.

This benefit was a key factor for Australia Post as the business is committed to improving customer service. “People want to track their parcels; they want to know where they are and when they can expect delivery. Australia Post Acknowledges that the SICK DWS solution is a key element in their process to provide a better customer experience,” Jean-Michel says.

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