We are living in a period of disruptive change. Macroeconomic volatility has become a hard reality, and important markets like China are redefining themselves. These and other global developments present new challenges. Yet change can also mean opportunity – even more so for companies who recognize these opportunities early and actively seize them.
Digitization is the key to managing complexity and reducing it whenever possible
I believe digitization is one of these opportunities. Why is that?
Industrial production and logistics are marked by increasing complexity. What was once standardized mass production with straightforward transport from ‘A to B’ has now become a diverse mix of customized, highly complex services with short lifecycles for individual markets and user groups. Digitization is the key to managing this complexity and reducing it whenever possible. New technologies are introducing intelligent and energy-efficient production as well as innovative business models and platforms for cross-sector collaboration that increase predictability, productivity, and above all, simplicity.
It’s for precisely these reasons that technological change and digitization are high priorities at Deutsche Post DHL Group. Working together with researchers and industry experts, we keep pace with the times and take an early and hard look at new technologies and their potential to improve the efficiency of logistics. We see logistics as a service industry with a clear aim: To connect people and both simplify and improve their lives.
We successfully pioneered delivery into unchartered territory with the DHL Parcelcopter, our fully automated aircraft. Using the Parcelcopter, we transported urgent medications from the German mainland to the North Sea island of Juist.
In Singapore, we operate the largest distribution center in the world for a leading manufacturer of semiconductors, storing products from 20 countries and distributing them to 54 countries. A staff of around 230 is supported by 36 robots, which are part of an automated small part warehousing system that picks the products and places them in stacked containers. We got rid of the shelves, aisles and forklifts – and got a four-fold increase in capacity and a 40% rise in production in return.
Technology can help make employees more productive and ultimately more successful. Vision picking, for example, enables hands-free order picking in warehouses – a technology we have already tested successfully in the Netherlands. The staff there was equipped with intelligent smart glasses, which guided them through the warehouse to speed up the picking process and reduce errors. The result was a 25% increase in efficiency, and users said the new process significantly simplified their workflow. Although we cannot say exactly how the business world will change as a result of digitization, we can say that it will create challenging jobs and interesting opportunities for our people.
Intelligent mobility and logistics concepts allow us to consolidate the transport of goods, reducing energy consumption and thereby our impact on the environment. Intelligently networked returns solutions form the foundation of a circular economy, which makes it possible to efficiently reutilize, refurbish, recycle, and avoid waste. Intelligent production automates routine activities, freeing up capacities and opening up resources for our customers’ core business and innovation.
As the engine of ever more complex global and regional production and trade chains, logistics can only deliver real added value if the industry works closely with its partners. Technological change and digitization offer the perfect opportunities to do just that. New forms of value creation, enabled by the digital revolution, benefit our customers and the planet.