Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Alibaba and 4PX open smart logistics park in China

Steve Rogerson
November 21, 2017

Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao and ecommerce company 4PX have jointly opened an international intelligent logistics park in China.
Based in Dongguan, Guangdong province, the park's primary purpose is to serve as a countrywide consolidation centre for Alibaba's Aliexpress, Taobao and Tmall international businesses, and is designed to handle an annual throughput of 100,000 tons of parcels, supporting more than RMB500bn in annual cross-border ecommerce sales, serving millions of overseas buyers and hundreds of thousands of domestic sellers.
It is in integral part of 4PX's efforts to optimise supply chains and increase global fulfilment capability. The logistics park was launched in time to handle the enormous surge in volume on China's 11.11 singles day shopping festival this month.
The park covers an area of 21,000 square metres, and is the largest and most intelligent cross-border ecommerce package processing centre in China. It includes automatic weighing and sorting lines, telescopic conveyors lines, and consolidation lines, among other equipment. The core systems of the intelligent logistics facility were developed in-house by 4PX's team of 300 IT workers, based on years of independent research and logistics development experience, not only providing efficient and stable operation of the entire park, but also enhancing delivery times and consumer experience.
When parcels arrive at the park, everything from sorting, inspection, scanning, transportation and delivery are guided by machinery, differing from a traditional sorting centre in China. The intelligent logistics system automatically scans, weighs and sorts parcels, and uses infra-red detection technology and redundant control systems to guarantee that sort errors are immediately and automatically corrected.
The idea of intelligent logistics is a natural progression in the trend of automation, networking, visualisation, real-time tracking and intelligent control for modern logistics, and is supporting cross-border ecommerce trade in China.
The park should bring positive benefits to businesses that conduct cross-border business by reducing logistics costs and increasing corporate profits so that SMEs throughout the world can enjoy more convenient global trade, at the same time providing consumers with a better logistics experience.
The opening of the park symbolises the continuous self-improvement process at 4PX, not only by restructuring and optimising all aspects of the logistics industry chain, but also by complementing global fulfilment capabilities, thereby increasing the service standard for all cross-border ecommerce logistics.
Between 2016 and 2017, 4PX invested more than RMB100m in upgrading software and hardware at processing centres and introducing automated sorting and handling equipment to boost efficiency. Throughout the current 11.11 shopping spree, 4PX has invested heavily in increasing its handling capacity, including direct chartered flights, increasing throughput at additional ports, and diversified customs clearances services to complement 4PX's express small parcel and international fulfilment services. This has increased 4PX's parcel processing capacity to six million parcels a day during peak season to ensure smooth operation.
Attendees at the park’s opening ceremony included Zhou Wanhong, deputy secretary general of Dongguan Municipal People's Government, Huang Chaodong, deputy director general of the Bureau of Commerce, Liu Jintang, deputy director of Bureau of Economic Information, Liang Zhiping, Dongguan party member, Wang Zhe, director of Sha Tin Inspection & Quarantine Bureau, and Chen Bin, chairman of Guangdong Qi Ying International Investment. They were greeted by Cainiao senior network director Guan Xiaodong and 4PX president Polly Cao.
As one of the largest logistics providers for import and export cross-border ecommerce in China, 4PX looks to continue innovation as it expands onto the global stage. From expanding international fulfilment facilities, the opening of the intelligent logistics park, large scale chartering of aircraft, to the global development of the 4PX Grid last kilometre delivery network, 4PX is accelerating its global order fulfilment network and last kilometre delivery networks to expand its cross-border businesses.