Robotics and supply chain optimisation at the DHL APAC Innovation Day

Supply chain optimisation platforms, digital payment, robotics and unmanned aerial solutions were amongst the inventions which took centre stage at the DHL Asia Pacific Innovation Day this week, hosted at the DHL Asia Pacific Innovation Centre in Singapore.
The Most Innovative Customer Award went to a DHL collaboration with Schindler Lifts to develop a bespoke web-based tracking and optimisation platform for their operations in Australia. Based on two years of past shipment data, the platform allows the elevator manufacturer to shave more than $500,000 from their annual running costs and gives full visibility over the warehousing, shipping and last-mile delivery of its elevator shipments.
“The platform has enabled visibility at every stage of the process from collection to final delivery at the specified site address. Should any unexpected changes occur, both DHL and Schindler have the ability to instantly adjust with the amended delivery dates,” said George Lekkas, Strategic Procurement Manager, Schindler Lifts Australia. “Many logistics players are touting the potential of real-time tracking and data analytics to transform supply chains, but DHL has put those ideas into practice in a way that not only overcomes our unique shipment handling challenges, but can easily scale to meet ongoing growth in the Australian construction industry.”
The Innovation Day also saw an award go to a digital payment solution developed by DHL eCommerce subsidiary Blue Dart, which enables couriers in India to collect cash-on-delivery (COD) payments through mobile Point of Sale devices and 15 different secure digital wallet options instead of physical cash. The system, which rolled out just as the Indian government took INR 500 and 1,000 notes out of circulation, enabled delivery staff to not only continue but also increase collection of COD payments, saving them more than 29 man-months between October 2016 and February 2017.
“The digital payment solution enables Blue Dart and DHL to continue providing Indian consumers and merchants with the COD options that they prefer, in a way that minimises many of the security and handling risks associated with cash handling,” said Daniel Matthews, General Manager, Systems, Blue Dart. “Given the significant impact of the demonetization on COD throughout India, the system’s success highlights how merchants can maintain sales and differentiate themselves by bringing traditional delivery processes into the digital era.”
Infinium Robotics won the popular vote in the DHL Innovation Day’s Startup Challenge, with the majority of the event’s attendees being convinced by the company’s vision to automate warehouse stocktake and inventory processes with autonomous drones. The platform and Infinium’s drone hardware will be further explored by DHL for piloting in real operations.
“When flying indoors, drones face none of the regulatory issues that have stymied their widespread adoption for last-mile deliveries and other outdoor applications,” said Junyang Woon, CEO, Infinium Robotics. “Infinium’s platform automates everything from highly precise indoor navigation to recharging at a network of charge points, allowing warehouse operators to reliably track, manage, and optimise their inventories in real-time and at significantly reduced costs. That, in turn, improves everything from worker safety – often put at risk due to the sheer height of warehouse racks – to the productivity of warehouses in today’s 24/7 fulfilment environment.”
Other highlights of DHL Asia Pacific Innovation Day included keynote sessions on artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, and new models for innovation being applied in Asia’s cities.

DHL commits to zero emissions 2050 target

Deutsche Post DHL Group has set itself a target of net zero logistics-related emissions by 2050, both through the company’s own activities and those of its transport subcontractors. DHL also announced that it wants to become the market leader in green logistics and plans to expand its portfolio of green products and services to help customers achieve their own climate protection targets. “The decisions we make today will determine how our children live 30 years down the line,” said Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group.
The company’s zero emissions logistics mission is supported by four interim milestones to be achieved by the year 2025 as part of the Group’s environmental protection program GoGreen.
First, Deutsche Post DHL Group will increase the carbon efficiency of its own activities and those of its transport subcontractors by 50 per cent globally, compared to the 2007 baseline.
Second, the Group will operate 70 per cent of its own first- and last-mile services with clean pick-up and delivery solutions using, for example, bicycles and electric vehicles.
Third, the company is aiming to have 50 per cent of sales incorporate ‘green solutions’, helping to make customers’ supply chains greener.
Four, the Group will train and certify 80 per cent of its employees as GoGreen specialists by 2025. It will also actively involve them in its environmental and climate protection activities.
DHL’s previous climate target – to improve carbon efficiency by 30 per cent over the 2007 baseline – was achieved in 2016, four years ahead of schedule, thanks to a diverse range of measures to optimise the Group’s vehicle fleet, buildings and logistics networks.

DHL trialling urban cargo delivery concept

DHL Express is currently trialling delivery by ‘cargo bicycle’ in the German city of Frankfurt and in Utrecht in the Netherlands, as reported by German newspaper The Local.
The cargo trailer–pulling bicycles which were first unveiled by the delivery company in April 2015 finally made it to active service this week.
The so-called ‘City Hub’ trailer carries up to four containers – up to 90 packages and 125kg, DHL said at the time, and replaces up to two delivery vans – saving more than 16 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
The city hub is a customised trailer that carries up to four containers for the logistics company’s ‘Cubicycle’ cargo bicycle.
The pilot scheme will see DHL vans transporting the trailers into the city centres where they will be loaded into bicycles for last-mile delivery. After delivery, the trailers can be filled for outbound delivery – with drivers expected to cycle up to 50km per day.
“DHL Express has already replaced up to 60% of inner-city vehicle routes in some European countries with cargo bicycles, and we expect that the City Hub and Cubicycle will both help us to accelerate this approach in other markets over the next three to five years,” said John Pearson, CEO, DHL Express Europe. “Bicycles offer a number of advantages in express delivery operations: they can bypass traffic congestion and make up to two times as many stops per hour than a delivery vehicle.
“The total cost of ownership over their lifetime is less than half of a van. And crucially, they generate zero emissions, which reinforces our own ongoing program to minimize our environmental footprint and supports city governments’ efforts to promote sustainable city living.”

Deutsche Post DHL and Huawei to work together on IoT supply chain tech

Chinese ICT solutions provider Huawei has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Deutsche Post DHL Group to develop a range of supply chain solutions for customers using industrial-grade Internet of Things hardware and infrastructure.
In a statement, DHL asserts that the company is looking at ways to increase its involvement in IoT technology.
“The Internet of Things could generate up to €1.77 trillion ($2.5 trillion) in additional value for the global logistics industry by 2025, enabling operators to better monitor and optimise their supply chain processes with low-cost networked sensors and devices,” the company said.
Under the MoU, Huawei and Deutsche Post DHL Group will collaborate on innovation projects focusing on cellular-based Internet of Things technology, which can connect large volumes of devices across long distances with minimal power consumption, delivering a more integrated logistics value chain by providing critical data and visibility in warehousing operations, freight transportation, and last-mile delivery.
“Spending on connected logistics solutions is expected to more than double between now and 2020, and many logistics providers including Deutsche Post DHL Group have already begun to explore Internet of Things applications in their supply chains, including everything from enhanced asset tracking to driverless delivery vehicles,” said Dr Markus Voss, Global COO & CIO, DHL Supply Chain. “This MoU will allow both Huawei and Deutsche Post DHL Group to tackle complex operational and business challenges with a powerful combination of world-class Internet of Things hardware, networks, and expertise in end-to-end supply chain management.”
The MoU will see Huawei make its Internet of Things devices, connectivity experts and network infrastructure accessible to Deutsche Post DHL Group and its ongoing efforts to incorporate greater sensing and automation capabilities into its warehousing, freight, and last-mile delivery services.
Yan Lida, President of Huawei Enterprise Business Group commented, “This partnership opens up an opportunity to improve the efficiency, safety and customer service offered by global supply chains in previously impossible ways, and defines how the Internet of Things will shape the fortunes of the logistics industry in the next few critical years of innovation.”

DHL rolls out On Demand Delivery across Australia, Asia Pacific

DHL Express announced the launch of On Demand Delivery, a new service that allows shippers and receivers globally to select from a range of standardised delivery options, on Tuesday 14 February.
With the service, shippers can choose to activate specific delivery options and have DHL Express notify their customers via email or SMS about a shipment’s progress. Receivers can then select the delivery option that best suits their requirements via the On Demand Delivery mobile-optimised website, including redirecting to alternate addresses or DHL service points (like retail outlets and newsagents), waiving the need for a signature and putting shipments on hold during vacation and their delivery instructions make their way in real time to DHL Express couriers.
“The value of cross-border e-commerce transactions is set to grow at an average of about 30% per year, meaning retailers will sell at higher rates into more countries than ever before – including those where they have little to no on-the-ground presence,” said Ken Lee, CEO, DHL Express Asia Pacific. “Asia Pacific markets like Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong have some of the highest numbers of cross-border online shoppers in the world, and retailers require flexible, reliable cross-border shipping options to grow their margins and market share.
On Demand Delivery will be in more than 100 countries and available in 45 languages globally by the end of 2017.

New MD for DHL Global Forwarding HK, Macau

DHL Global Forwarding, provider of air, sea and road freight services in Europe and Asia, has appointed Mark Slade as Managing Director of Hong Kong and Macau.
Slade has been for the organisation for 14 years, until recently serving as Managing Director of Japan. In that role, Slade delivered record financial performance, and also receive the highest internal accolade for corporate responsibility – Deutsche Post DHL CEO Award 2012 for Living Responsibility – for his role in leading the company’s aid efforts after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and remaining in Japan to maintain staff morale in the aftermath of the disaster.
While in the role, Slade also established the Japan Power Network, a global forum for overseas Japanese sales professionals to support one another in business development and finding local support, and he has also been the Chairman of Japan’s Logistics and Freight Committee for the European Business Council since 2012.
“In his six years leading our operations in Japan, Mark showed a care for the entire market that went well beyond simply doing business,” said Steve Huang, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding Greater China.
Slade commented, “Our successes in Japan stem from the steadfast commitment of our team to literally going the extra mile for both our customers and the communities we operate in, and I believe our customers can anticipate even greater results in the years ahead.”

DHL makes bid for European freight with CILLOX platform

A mere three months after announcing their intention to introduce a digital freight platform, DHL Group has launched CILLOX, a virtual marketplace that matches full truckload (FTL), part truckload (PTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments with available transportation providers. The platform is now available for management of freight travelling within Germany or from Germany to destinations in Europe.
Amadou Diallo, Executive Vice President Value Added Services & Integrated Logistics at DHL Global Forwarding and CEO CILLOX said, “Our main objective is to make the platform as convenient as possible in order to simplify our customer’s lives and we will continuously evolve the platform according to user needs and feedback.”
According to DHL, CILLOX connects companies with freight shipping needs with transport providers for their particular cargo – without time-consuming negotiations and difficult comparisons of prices and services. “Shippers get immediate access to pricing information based on their shipment characteristics, availability of trucks and last-booked rates,” the company said. “This enables a better comparison and booking of incoming quotes from transport providers. CILLOX offers the freedom of choice of a marketplace, as shippers choose and book the transport provider that best fits their requirements yet enjoy a single point of contact with CILLOX as their contract partner.”
For transport providers, CILLOX provides a platform to present their company’s assets and capabilities to a large audience of shippers so they can find suitable loads to optimise the utilisation of their trucks. “A dynamic transport quote calculator – derived from a continuously growing real-time database combined with analysis of substantial transacted data collected over the years – will assist transport companies to make competitive quotes for each shipment and help them succeed in winning the loads they need,” the company said.
CILLOX also provides a single interface for tracking, documentation and payment processes, and shippers are able to track fulfilment progress and receive real-time notifications via their personalised dashboard in case of delays. The CILLOX driver mobile application matches the GPS position of trucks to the pick-up and delivery addresses of their routes, and reminds drivers to confirm crucial milestones or to document issues. A document scanner integrated into the driver application allows drivers to scan and submit delivery documents with their mobile phone cameras, accelerating payment to transport providers to a matter of days.
While DHL has expressed an intention to roll the platform out over other geographical areas, there is no word as yet on when CILLOX will arrive in Australia.

DHL CEO Appel on Amazon, Uber as competition, underestimating complexity

Speaking in a TV interview with news channel CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Deutsche Post DHL Group (DHL) CEO Frank Appel affirmed his confidence in the world’s largest courier company’s continuing relevance at a time when commerce and transport companies such as Amazon and Uber are reportedly gearing up to take a share of the global logistics task.
“If you are a quality leader, the edge of what is possible, you always have a right of existence,” Appel stated. “If you get lazy and think, ‘no one can hurt us’, then you get a problem.
When asked for his thoughts on what disruptors such as Amazon are underestimating as they try to enter the market, Appel noted that little is often thought of the effort that goes into ensuring quality of service. “To get [a parcel] to the consumer and bring it back is tremendously difficult, it’s undervalued because logistics are not visible,” he said. “I think what we do every night with millions of parcels is completely underestimated.” He added that he does not believe Amazon, which he describes as an important customer and partner of DHL, underestimates the task, and that is why they go to DHL to receive quality service. “But many people think that it is easy, that anyone can do it,” he added.
Appel expressed doubts about the viability of an Uber-style parcel delivery service. “Think about that we have an Uber solution, we have 100,000 parcels and everyone delivers five,” he said. The number of cars that would end up waiting in front of their depots would result in chaos, “That will never work,” he added. He conceded that the delivery model may well work for select, often rural, destinations, but not for the masses.
Appel further noted that he believes that delivery by Uber, or any other method, needs a human element, at least for the time being. “If…you call an Uber,” he said. “If it doesn’t show up, you call another one. If the parcel got stuck, what should the parcel do? It doesn’t speak, it doesn’t communicate, so some human intervention is necessary. I think that complexity is underestimated by many people.
When asked about his feelings on the likelihood of drone delivery becoming a reality, Appel stated that he thinks the technology has the potential to be use in the medium term, though not in the short term. “You never know,” he said. “You should prepare for the uncertainty. That’s also interesting about the current situation we’re in – complexity and uncertainty is good for companies who are willing to deal with that. That creates business opportunities.
“We make life for our customers easier, things are getting more complex. That’s a moment of truth for us. I tell our people, don’t worry, see it as a huge opportunity we can then gain, we can then grow.”
Image: Kandschwar at the German language Wikipedia.

DHL eCommerce launches new fulfilment centre in Australia

DHL eCommerce, a division of Deutsche Post DHL Group, has announced the launch of its Australian fulfilment centre in Sydney to support booming purchase volumes amongst Australia’s online shoppers.
“Nearly 75 per cent of total online spending by Australians goes to domestic retailers, with the value of e-commerce purchases expected to grow by nearly 50 per cent between now and 2020,” said Damien Sheehan, Managing Director Australia, DHL eCommerce. “As demand rises, online retailers need to overcome the traditional problems associated with shipping orders Australia-wide – particularly the significant distances between major cities that they need to traverse – if they want to maintain their competitive edge.”
“The addition of our Australian fulfilment centre gives our customers a far simpler, streamlined approach to managing inventory and last-mile deliveries, allowing them to focus squarely on satisfying their customers both during the check-out and shipment process,” he added.
The fulfilment centre will provide Australian merchants with fast, flexible shipping that consolidates inventory management and last-mile delivery from Sydney to major cities and regional hubs around Australia. The centre operates on the same service level agreements, management platforms, and customer support as all other parts of DHL eCommerce’s global fulfilment network, allowing Australian e-tailers to expand their sales into markets like the US, Mexico, Hong Kong, India and Europe with minimal onboarding time and hassle.
“E-commerce has gone borderless, and order fulfilment needs to do the same,” said Charles Brewer, CEO DHL eCommerce. “Our Australian facility adds another node to our standardised global network of fulfilment centres, eliminating the need for e-commerce merchants to hunt for new logistics partners as they look to expand their global reach.”
The centre’s design accommodates front-end integration with a range of marketplace and web-shop platforms, as well as multichannel order management and last-mile solutions. All of the centre’s services operate on a pay-per-use model with no capital spend or fixed costs.
“With cross-border e-commerce growing at an average of 29% per year until 2020, cost-efficiency and scalability are the critical issues for Australia’s online retailers,” said Malcolm Monteiro, CEO Asia Pacific, DHL eCommerce. “Whether it’s extending into new channels, offering more delivery options, or simply increasing inventory and warehouse capacity, Australian brands need fulfilment solutions that keep the operations lean no matter the delivery distances and volumes involved.”

DHL opens Asian hub in Singapore

DHL Express has launched a €85 million (AUD$121 million) 24-hour express hub facility located within Changi Airfreight Centre (CAC) at Singapore’s Changi Airport.
The 23,600 sqm facility is outfitted with the industry’s first fully automated express parcel sorting and processing system in South Asia, and is set to boost its operational capacity and efficiency, says DHL.
The opening of the new facility is timely as DHL has recorded healthy shipment growth in recent years, particularly in the southern part of Asia Pacific. Between 2012 and 2015, the average daily shipments for Oceania grew approximately 50 per cent, South Asia at 30 per cent and Southeast Asia rose 25 per cent. This facility is 33 per cent larger than the previous hub, providing DHL with additional capacity to handle the growing shipment volumes for regional and international destinations. The hub is said to improve the flow of goods between aircraft and the facility, and allows consignments to be shipped or transshipped within an hour.
“The DHL South Asia Hub is a significant milestone in further enhancing our multi-hub strategy in the region,” says Ken Lee, CEO, DHL Express Asia Pacific. “With four hubs in Asia Pacific – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Bangkok – this links over 70 DHL Express Gateways located throughout the region. Together, these facilities reinforce our customer commitment to provide the most efficient international express connectivity between key markets in the region. This will also allow us to add more network flights in and out of Singapore, such as the recent introduction of the Phnom Penh-Bangkok flight that adds to our existing Bangkok-Singapore service, as regional trade continues to grow.”
The facility processes up to 24,000 shipments and documents per hour and can handle more than 628 tonnes of cargo during the peak processing window.

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