DHL Americas opens new innovation centre

1st November 2019

International courier company DHL has expanded its global innovation footprint to the Americas region with the opening of its Americas Innovation Centre in September.

Joining the DHL Innovation Centre in Troisdorf near Bonn, Germany, and the Asia Pacific Innovation Centre in Singapore – the Americas Innovation Centre will exhibit technologies that DHL is already implementing across the region as well as investigate future solutions that can provide significant productivity and efficiency gains.

“Innovation has been a driving force for DHL since its inception in 1969,” says DHL e-commerce solutions CEO Ken Allen, who

is also a board member for customer solutions and innovation at Deutsche Post DHL Group, which looks after DHL’s largest customers.

“Now with three Innovation Centres globally, DHL can leverage the power of innovation to serve customers and play an active role in shaping the future of logistics. DHL is an organisation that prioritises thinking differently to deliver excellence, and I’m proud we now have this platform in the Americas to extend these capabilities to partners in their own backyard.”

The facility is about 2 601 m2 and it provides a collaborative space for DHL to work with its customers, its technology partners, and academics as well as tap the innovative power of its employees. Establishing the new centre in the Americas is a high point in the celebration of DHL’s fiftieth anniversary this year. The opening event drew more than 300 guests including technology and logistics industry leaders, customers from across the region, local officials and DHL senior leadership.

“Innovation enables DHL to be at the forefront of game-changing solutions for the supply chain industry,” said DHL global innovation and commercial development head Matthias Heutger.

“The Innovation Centres are the nucleus of our customer-centric innovation approach. They provide the platform for understanding emerging trends and discovering insights with the potential to drive real-world business impacts. DHL was the first player to make use of picking robots, for example, in North American warehouses. Self-driving robots to support order picking can increase picking rates up to 200%, which is significant in a fast-moving, globalised e-commerce environment.”

The four DHL business units operating in the Americas are committed to investing in coming years in the development and adoption of new technologies that can improve operations, better the customer experience, lower costs and facilitate better workplace processes for its employees.

As a global leader in logistics, DHL continuously evaluates innovative customer-centric solutions, already implementing a variety of advanced technologies to boost productivity, lower costs and better serve evolving customer needs.

For instance, DHL Supply Chain – the contract logistics specialist within Deutsche Post DHL Group – has already seen significant productivity increases. This has especially been the case in peak season, by using various robotic solutions, including automated guided vehicles that can ferry goods through warehouses, mobile robots that can facilitate order fulfillment in e-commerce operations and collaborative robots designed to help with repetitive tasks, such as picking and packing.

As part of its commitment to invest in new technologies, DHL Supply Chain announced last November that it would be investing $300-million in 2018 and through this year to deploy emerging technologies to 350 of its 430 North American facilities and transportation control towers. The company is also investing in the development of a new digital platform to manage its transportations operations.

DHL Express will continue to add more automation at its regional hubs, gateways and service centres, introduce robotics to help with shipment loading/unloading, expand the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for better route optimisation, apply repetitive process automation for billing tasks as well as continue the addition of chatbots and voice recognition tools for bookings, order tracking and improved customer service.

DHL Global Forwarding is working with improved technology to track packages and handle temperature-sensitive shipments as well as implementing warehouse automation with radio frequency identification tracking to track cargo location, shipment consolidation and shipping schedules. Moreover, DHL Global Forwarding unveiled a new advanced data analytics tool designed for clients with highly sensitive cargo such as the life sciences and healthcare sector.

It provides quick analysis and insights for better decision-making such as the optimal trade lanes to make use of, verification of temperature controls in transit, and the ability to analyse and reduce risks. Like DHL Express, DHL Global Forwarding is using virtual reality for employee training programmes in several countries in the Americas.

DHL eCommerce Solutions is also using automation and robotics to improve productivity in its distribution centres. It is making use of software solutions to optimise inventory management for its merchants.