DHL Supply Chain will invest $300m in deploying new technology and transportation control towers in 350 of its 430 North American facilities as it looks to improve productivity.
The logistics giant said that deployment of the technologies, such as robotics, augmented reality, robotics process automation, IoT and DHL’s proprietary end-to-end visibility solution – MySupplyChain -, will vary by customer needs, based on the outcomes of research and pilot programmes.
In certain cases the technologies have produced productivity gains upwards of 25% and throughput capacity gains of 30%.
The availability of these technologies is expected to help customers remove capacity constraints, and maximize service to their customers.
DHL Supply Chain North America chief executive Scott Sureddin said: “This investment is about a holistic view of emerging technologies that enables our customers to achieve their growth and profitability goals.
“Our customers’ needs are not homogenous as each business and segment has unique challenges and levels of maturity. Therefore, it is important that our customers can benefit from our experiences and expertise with a variety of emerging technologies.”
According to a recent DHL report, the exponential growth of e-commerce and its implications on service was identified by 65% percent of responding companies as having a significant impact on their supply chain.
“Executives are turning to technology in support of faster delivery times to efficiently manage fluctuating demand. In alignment with this trend, DHL is already leveraging emerging technologies at approximately 85 of its 430 North American facilitie,” the company said.
“While many technologies are already in active deployment, collaborative piece-picking robots, artificial intelligence applications and self-driving vehicles stand to have the most promise today,” added Sureddin.
The company said that the deployment of this technology was not about replacing people.
Tim Sprosty, senior vice President of Human Resources at DHL Supply Chain, said: “These technologies enhance the value of our people; they don’t replace them. Our team will be equipped with the most advanced technologies, trained on emerging ones and retained through a culture of innovation, collaboration and recognition. We believe this approach is a winning strategy not just for our business but for our customers’ businesses as well.”
Earlier this year, DHL broke ground on its Americas Innovation Center that will exhibit the technologies and innovations the business is already implementing across the region.