Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DHL pilots technology at US operations

Steve Rogerson
March 28, 2018



DHL is piloting a range of technologies in its US operations, including robotics, augmented reality and autonomous vehicles.
 
As consumer expectations are evolving due to a number of major trends, including ecommerce, urbanisation and sustainability, logistics providers are being challenged to provide more flexible and efficient services.
 
DHL is proactively addressing the evolving requirements of the market by introducing technologies within its US operations. DHL Supply Chain has introduced robotics – including the LocusBots and Sawyer collaborative robots – and augmented reality glasses in warehouse operations to improve productivity in the fulfilment of customer orders.
 
The company's DHL ecommerce unit has launched DHL Parcel Metro, a fast and flexible service for online retailers that meets consumers' increasing demand for same-day and next-day delivery. Parcel Metro uses customised software that allows DHL to create a virtual delivery network of local and regional delivery vendors and crowd-sourced providers to increase flexibility and capacity over the last kilometre.
 
Retailers can offer a fully branded delivery experience to their customers. For consumers, the service creates a seamless experience: a mobile interface – which can be customised with the branding of the retailer – lets consumers track shipments in real time, communicate instructions to their courier, reschedule a delivery and rate their delivery experience. The service is available in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, and will be launched in Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco and Washington DC later in the year.
 
"E-tailers today recognise more and more that the customer experience and their ability to build customer loyalty are won and lost in how well the orders are fulfilled and delivered," said Charles Brewer, CEO for ecommerce at DHL. "Deutsche Post DHL Group is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to offer the best service, quality and efficiency for our customers. DHL Parcel Metro provides technology to the last mile opportunity. Our digitalisation journey is all about how we can add value to our customers, to our employees and to our shareholders. DHL Parcel Metro is part of a number of innovations we are actively implementing, including augmented reality glasses for greater pick accuracy, follow-me robots and autonomous vehicles."
 
Eighty-six per cent of consumers associate delivery as part of their total online shopping experience, according to recent research. DHL therefore sees it as important to offer services that not only meet their needs, but do so in a highly consistent fashion.
 
“DHL Parcel Metro provides that consistency, and offers retailers the ability to extend their brand and messaging to consumers throughout the final mile delivery for a unique shopping experience," said Lee Spratt, DHL’s CEO for ecommerce in the Americas.
 
DHL supply chain president of retail, Jim Gehr, added: "Innovative technology is becoming an extremely important element in ecommerce logistics because of changing customer demands. We are using software technology to speed order flow and to more efficiently organise distribution centres. Hardware like LocusBots allow for faster picking. What we look for is the smart combination of software and hardware."
 
Smith Detection has won a contract to supply DHL in Hong Kong with technology that automatically screens cargo and baggage for explosive. DHL is already using the technology in Singapore and Japan.