Pandemic spurring tech transformation

Technology in the supply chain set to make major leaps in the medium term, as companies invest and roll out new tools

The pandemic has seen the rapid development of new technology for e-commerce business needs in the fields of warehousing, automation, IT solutions and fulfilment.

Despite this rising demand, a recent industry survey by DHL revealed that 60% of logistics professionals have inadequate supply chain visibility.

Some 75% plan to implement at least one Next-Generation Wireless technology in the near future as part of their visibility strategy.

E-commerce giant Amazon last year alone launched more than 225 tools and services to help third-party sellers – mostly small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), part of a $15bn global investment in its third-party business.

Traditional supply chain providers are also investing. Scandinavia-based logistics provider DSV, the acquisition-led Danish freight forwarder, has launched its e-commerce solutions package.

After a dramatic increase in the number of orders shipped directly to end customers, the new DSV service combines a standardised warehousing process, off-the-shelf automation concepts and IT integration.

“The service includes a templated process, off-the-shelf automation modules, operational optimisation algorithms that bolt onto the central Warehouse Management System (WMS) and a pre-configured Distribution Management Platform for last-mile delivery,” said Hugo van Daal, Director e-Commerce of DSV’s Solutions division.

DHL Supply Chain has launched a plug & play robotics platform in collaboration with Microsoft, and artificial intelligence (AI) digital fulfilment provider Blue Yonder.

The robotics platform reduces integration time and programming efforts to on-board new automation devices into warehouse facilities.

It uses Microsoft Azure IoT and cloud platform services, while the first implementation at a DHL warehouse in Madrid reduced integration time by 60% and subsequent deployments seeing improvements of up to 90%.

DHL said that the technology gives its customers more flexibility in selecting suitable robotics systems according to their individual business needs.

Markus Voss, Global CIO and COO at DHL Supply Chain, said: "Automation and collaborative robotics help us make operational processes more flexible, ergonomic and more attractive to our employees by replacing monotonous, repetitive and particularly strenuous activities.

“The aim is not to replace employees over time, but to assign the more attractive and interesting tasks to our human workforce."

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