In Focus: Logistics in 2019
With the logistics industry as competitive as ever, Supply Chain Digital looks at what three of the leading companies are doing to maintain a competitive advantage.
Having unveiled a new mega parcel centre in Bochum, Germany, DHL has shown it means business by launching one of the most efficient parcel facilities in Europe. With a sorting capacity of up to 50,000 shipments an hour, the new facility will create 600 jobs in the region. The news showcases DHL’s intent and follows the launch of its Obertshausen parcel centre near Frankfurt in 2016, which became the biggest DHL facility in Germany. Operating with “Strategy 2025” in mind, DHL is focused on harnessing sustained potential for profitable long-term growth. “Deutsche Post DHL Group has never been in better shape. We are convinced that future growth will come from a consistent focus on our profitable core logistics businesses – and digitalisation will become the greatest lever,” commented Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group. “We need not reinvent ourselves. We will digitalise ourselves.”
The company has been trialling drone technology and completed a commercial residential delivery in Christiansburg, Virginia, in collaboration with Wing Aviation in October 2019. FedEx operates a diverse range of solutions which include; FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Services, FedEx Logistics and FedEx Office. At the end of June 2019, FedEx Express chose not to extend its domestic contract with Amazon and now focuses on serving the broader e-commerce market. While in April 2019, FedEx Office unveiled its 2,000th retail location as it accelerates its ever-expanding footprint. “Our 2,000 stores represent an unmatched nationwide network for both shipping and printing,” said Brian Philips, CEO and president of FedEx Office. “We’re continually investing in new ways to make e-commerce easy for customers and retailers alike. We also continue to enhance our network’s printing capabilities, which include advanced color management technology that ensures the accuracy and consistency of materials printed at any location nationwide.”
UPS has experienced a busy few months. The company introduced a new flat rate shipping option earlier in November in a bid to offer its customers a simpler solution. The new shipping option, UPS Simple Rate, will help small and medium-sized businesses and will enable SMBs to ship by UPS 2nd Day, UPS 3 Day Select and UPS Ground services to any US location for a flat rate. “UPS responds to our customers’ need for more convenience, choice and control,” said Kevin Warren, chief marketing officer at UPS. “Simple Rate helps small businesses take the guesswork out of shipping by providing simple, fast and transparent flat rates nationwide with guaranteed on-time delivery and no special packaging required.” UPS is also experimenting with drone technology, with its UPS Flight Forward subsidiary receiving its first full Part 135 Standard certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) to operate a drone airline.
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DHL Express Invests in Electric Cargo Plane Fleet
DHL Express has ordered 12 fully electric cargo planes to supercharge efforts in reducing carbon emissions across its US delivery network.
The Alice eCargo planes are manufactured by Seattle startup Eviation, and are designed specifically to be configured for either cargo or passengers. The first planes are expected to be delivered to DHL Express in 2024.
“We have found the perfect partner with Eviation as they share our purpose, and together we will take off into a new era of sustainable aviation,” said John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express.
The purchase forms part of DHL’s €7bn investment in reducing CO2 emissions by 2030, with a zero emissions target set for 2050.
“We firmly believe in a future with zero-emission logistics,” Pearson added. “On our way to clean logistics operations, the electrification of every transport mode plays a crucial role and will significantly contribute to our overall sustainability goal of zero emissions.”
What is Eviation's Alice Aircraft?
- Manufacturer: Eviation
- Capacity: 1,200kg
- Range: 815km
- Charge time: 30 minutes
- Launching: 2024
Eviation’s Alice aircraft enable cargo and passenger airlines to operate zero-emission fleets. The plane can be flown by one pilot and is capable of carrying 1,200kg, with a maximum range of 815km.
The aircraft can be fully charged in 30 minutes, which can take place while the vehicle is loaded and unloaded between flights. Eviation says that, because the aircraft has fewer moving parts - or points of failure - than traditional aircraft, they are more reliable and reduce maintenance overheads and downtime.
“With Alice’s range and capacity, this is a fantastic sustainable solution for our global network,” said Travis Cobb, EVP Global Network Operations and Aviation for DHL Express. “Our aspiration is to make a substantial contribution in reducing our carbon footprint, and these advancements in fleet and technology will go a long way in achieving further carbon reductions.”
How Does Alice Compare with UPS’ eVTOLs?
DHL Express is not alone in electrifying the skies. In April, UPS announced a new fleet of eVTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft, from Beta Technologies, which will enter service in 2024.
UPS’ vehicles can carry 635kg with a 400km range and cruising speeds of up to 170mph. The eVTOLs can carry cargo to several short-hops or one long route on a single charge, and are aimed at healthcare organisation, SMEs and businesses in small or remote communities.
“These new aircraft will create operational efficiencies in our business, open possibilities for new services, and serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce the emissions profile of our air and ground operation,” said Juan Perez, UPS Chief Information and Engineering Officer.
The first 10 eVTOLs will be delivered in 2024, with the option for UPS to order up to 150 more.