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DHL’s innovation center driving digitalisation and sustainability

DHL robot in a warehouse move parcels

Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at some of the highlights from its visit to DHL’s innovation center in Troisdorf, Bonn.

To unveil its 2025 strategy, DHL invited Supply Chain Digital to its innovation center in Troisdorf, Bonn, where the company showcased its latest innovations within logistics.

During a tour of the innovation center, conducted by Markus Kückelhaus, VP of Innovation and Trend Research, Kückelhaus highlighted the key trends within logistics and DHL’s latest innovations.

To ‘deliver excellence in a digital world’ DHL is focusing on four core areas for its 2025 strategy which include: globalisation, digitalisation, e-commerce and sustainability.

Sustainability - DHL aims to achieve zero emissions by 2050. At the center, Kückelhaus showcased its innovation of the ‘street scooter’ a 100% electrical vehicle for the transportation of deliveries. The innovation was born out of an initiative from the University of Aachen who initially started developing electric bikes. Today, DHL has over 10,000 electric vans on the road that vary in size (small, large and extra-large). The small street scooter at the innovation center has a reach of 80km, more than enough for urban deliveries.

Digitalisation - A technology lover’s dream! Within the innovation center Kückelhaus demonstrated a multitude of digital innovations from robotics, to blockchain, automation and digital twins. 

  • ‘Follow Me’ robot: reducing the need for long distance walking to improve safety and drive productivity. DHL is utilising easy to use robotics that learns from its environment to reduce the need for and time spent on long distance walking within the warehouse.

  • Neo Avidbots and Sawyer robot: to reduce repetitive tasks such as packaging and unsociable hours tasks such as cleaning, DHL has been harnessing robotics to drive more engaging roles that better utilise an employee’s talents. 

  • Picking vests and vision picking glasses: by utilising the concept of Alexa technology and augmented reality, DHL is driving hands free picking within logistics, for a safer workplace. 

"What sets us apart is our drive to track down innovation and bring the results quickly and comprehensively into operation. Attracting new talents is a crucial step towards adapting to the digitalization of the logistics industry. Equally important is committing to data-backed, agile collaboration and balancing customers' demand for fast and transparent services with businesses' need to reduce costs. With Strategy 2025 we aim for putting our people and customers first and maximizing the pace of product roll-outs to take these opportunities head on,” commented Markus Voss, CIO and COO, DHL Global Supply Chain.

Facts and Figures, DHL innovation center, Troisdorf, Bonn:

  • Inaugurated: 2007 (revamped in 2015)

  • Visitors per year: 8,000

  • No. of employees: 25 (including DHL Trend Research)

For more information on all topics for Procurement, Supply Chain & Logistics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

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