May 17, 2020

DHL’s innovation center driving digitalisation and sustainability

Logistics
Sustainability
Digitalisation
Georgia Wilson
3 min
DHL robot in a warehouse move parcels
Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at some of the highlights from its visit to DHL’s innovation center in Troisdorf, Bonn.

To unveil its 2025 s...

Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at some of the highlights from its visit to DHL’s innovation center in Troisdorf, Bonn.

To unveil its 2025 strategy, DHL invited Supply Chain Digital to its innovation center in Troisdorf, Bonn, where the company showcased its latest innovations within logistics.

During a tour of the innovation center, conducted by Markus Kückelhaus, VP of Innovation and Trend Research, Kückelhaus highlighted the key trends within logistics and DHL’s latest innovations.

To ‘deliver excellence in a digital world’ DHL is focusing on four core areas for its 2025 strategy which include: globalisation, digitalisation, e-commerce and sustainability.

Sustainability - DHL aims to achieve zero emissions by 2050. At the center, Kückelhaus showcased its innovation of the ‘street scooter’ a 100% electrical vehicle for the transportation of deliveries. The innovation was born out of an initiative from the University of Aachen who initially started developing electric bikes. Today, DHL has over 10,000 electric vans on the road that vary in size (small, large and extra-large). The small street scooter at the innovation center has a reach of 80km, more than enough for urban deliveries.

Digitalisation - A technology lover’s dream! Within the innovation center Kückelhaus demonstrated a multitude of digital innovations from robotics, to blockchain, automation and digital twins. 

  • ‘Follow Me’ robot: reducing the need for long distance walking to improve safety and drive productivity. DHL is utilising easy to use robotics that learns from its environment to reduce the need for and time spent on long distance walking within the warehouse.

  • Neo Avidbots and Sawyer robot: to reduce repetitive tasks such as packaging and unsociable hours tasks such as cleaning, DHL has been harnessing robotics to drive more engaging roles that better utilise an employee’s talents. 

  • Picking vests and vision picking glasses: by utilising the concept of Alexa technology and augmented reality, DHL is driving hands free picking within logistics, for a safer workplace. 

"What sets us apart is our drive to track down innovation and bring the results quickly and comprehensively into operation. Attracting new talents is a crucial step towards adapting to the digitalization of the logistics industry. Equally important is committing to data-backed, agile collaboration and balancing customers' demand for fast and transparent services with businesses' need to reduce costs. With Strategy 2025 we aim for putting our people and customers first and maximizing the pace of product roll-outs to take these opportunities head on,” commented Markus Voss, CIO and COO, DHL Global Supply Chain.

Facts and Figures, DHL innovation center, Troisdorf, Bonn:

  • Inaugurated: 2007 (revamped in 2015)

  • Visitors per year: 8,000

  • No. of employees: 25 (including DHL Trend Research)

For more information on all topics for Procurement, Supply Chain & Logistics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

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Jun 15, 2021

FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles

FedEx
Logistics
LastMile
AutonomousVehicles
3 min
FedEx is expanding a trial of autonomous vehicles in its last-mile logistics process with partner Nuro, including multi-stop and appointment deliveries

FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics. 

The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener". 

FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road. 

“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”

 

The changing role of couriers 

Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time. 

But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse. 

“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”

Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds. 

Last mile's role in ESG

Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings. 
 

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