Supply Chain (SCM/SCE)

Supply Chain Management (SCM) Software, Supply Chain Optimisation, Supply Chain Execution, hardware transport, supply-chain, distribution software, freight software and load planning in manufacturing and supply chain applications.

DHL unveils its supply chain of the future

Strategic adoption of robots, AI and self-driving vehicles will bring flexibility and reduced costs for omnichannel companies.

As companies struggle to implement omnichannel, they lean more and more on logistics providers.

DHL Supply Chain is taking advantage of the trend, investing $300 million in emerging technologies at 350 of its 430 North American facilities to reduce costs while adding flexibility to its services.

The initiative is designed to help e-commerce customers grow their business by improving visibility, increasing efficiencies and reducing complexity, according to Fred Takavitz, Senior Vice President at DHL (Exel) Supply Chain.

“It’s about trying to remove obstacles that we see in the business and that our customers experience,” Takavitz said.

The traditional supply chain is no longer enough

DHL works with clients in the life sciences, healthcare, automotive and technology industries, all of which have a growing need to support rapid fulfillment with flexible options that enable consumers to pick up and return products anywhere at any time.

In a recent report, DHL found 65% of responding companies said the growth of e-commerce and its implications on service had a “significant impact” on their supply chain. Many organizations found traditional supply chains simply can’t support the omnichannel experience.

It’s a shift that is prompting companies to seek out technology that can support faster delivery times and more effectively manage fluctuating demand. Or, to seek out partners that can help them adapt to a greater use of data, use more strategic facility locations and deploy collaborative robots or other emerging technologies that support greater efficiencies.

DHL is already leveraging emerging technologies in 85 of its 430 facilities in North America and has experienced productivity gains of as much as 25% while increasing throughput capacity by as much as 30%.

One size does not fit all

The technologies DHL will deploy in this next round of investments will vary by location needs and the outcomes of pilot programs. They will include picking robots, artificial intelligence applications and self-driving vehicles.

One notable thing the logistics provider has done is develop site technology roadmaps to identify the right use cases for specific applications. Mike Kreider, Vice President of IT Americas at DHL Supply Chain, said that it has helped create a standard to leverage across many sites.

“We’re standardizing our IT Platforms and the system integration to these new technologies, so that we can lower the costs and facilitate rapid implementations,” Kreider said.

The strategy has been in place at DHL since at least May 2018, when the company released MySupplyChain, a customizable platform enabling users to access track-and-trace, inventory, operational performance and business analytics data from any device.