New Chicago innovation center to explore solutions for improved logistics: DHL

Sep 13, 2019: A new high point in the celebration of DHL's 50th anniversary this year, is the opening of its Americas Innovation Center in Chicago yesterday.

The state-of-the-art 28,000 square foot facility, according to the German company, ‘would help it accelerate the development of new solutions for logistics and supply chain operations’.

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. 

The Americas center adds to its already existing centers in Troisdorf near Bonn, Germany, (opened in 2007) and the Asia Pacific Innovation Center in Singapore (opened in 2015).

The Americas Innovation Center 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.

Matthias Heutger, Global head of Innovation and Commercial Development at DHL said: "DHL was the first player to utilise picking robots, for example, in North American warehouses. Self-driving robots to support order picking can increase picking rates up to 200 percent 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.

DHL has been constantly using the concept of innovative logistics in order to boost productivity.

For instance, DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics specialist within Deutsche Post DHL Group, has already seen significant productivity increases, especially 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.

DHL Express will continue to add more automation at its regional hubs, gateways and service centers, introduce robotics to help with shipment loading/unloading, expand the use of AI and machine learning for better route optimization, 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.

The logistics giant added: “DHL Global Forwarding is working with improved technology to track packages and handle temperature-sensitive shipments as well as implementing warehouse automation with RFID tracking to track cargo location, shipment consolidation and shipping schedules. DHL Global Forwarding unveiled yesterday 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 utilize, verification of temperature controls in transit, and the ability to analyze and reduce risks. Like DHL Express, DHL Global Forwarding is using virtual reality for employee training programs in several countries in the Americas.”

DHL eCommerce Solutions, a major provider of domestic and cross-border delivery services for online retailers, is also using automation and robotics to improve productivity in its distribution centers.

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.