DHL Supply Chain, a Westerville, Ohio-based division of Deutsche Post DHL Group, announced plans to deploy emerging technologies in 350 of its 430 North American facilities and transportation control towers.

The $300 million investment will employ technologies designed to address a diverse customer base, including e-commerce and omni-channel challenges to minimize complexity, remove capacity constraints and maximize service to customers, as well as accelerate the implementation of selected technologies such as robotics, augmented reality, robotics process automation, Internet of Things (IoT) and DHL’s proprietary end-to-end visibility solution – MySupplyChain.

“This investment is about a holistic view of emerging technologies that enables our customers to achieve their growth and profitability goals,” says Scott Sureddin, chief executive officer of DHL Supply Chain North America. “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 DHL report, the exponential growth of e-commerce and its implications on service was identified by 65% 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 facilities. 

“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,” adds Sureddin.

The potential impact on customers’ businesses, which in some deployments have produced productivity gains upwards of 25% and throughput capacity gains of 30%, are two of the main drivers for accelerated investment in the coming years.

Another motivation is based on the workforce itself, which is widely regarded as one of the most significant challenges facing the logistics industry. Technology is one of the many levers DHL is utilizing to attract and retain its team.

“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,” says Tim Sprosty, senior vice president of human resources at DHL Supply Chain.