In 2018, DHL Supply Chain announced its plans to deploy emerging technologies in 350 of its North American facilities. Brian Gaunt, senior director of accelerated digitization at DHL, described DHL’s warehouse digitization journey. DHL is the world’s largest logistics service provider. The best digital transformations are focused on using technology to better serve customers. These investments are designed to improve service to DHL’s contract logistics customers.
DHL Innovation Funnel DHL Supply Chain has instituted a well-defined process for vetting and adopting warehouse technologies. They conduct research, engage with partners (100+), and identify the opportunities that best align with their objectives. The most promising technologies enter the productization phase. Productization is the term DHL uses to describe technologies that have defined applications for use within DHL, that are supported by deployment guides along with established profile matches that identify “best fits” for the technology’s use within the organization. As an analogy, DHL has established parameters that enable these technologies to be used like “a tool in a toolbox.” DHL has defined twelve technologies with clear benefits to the company and its customers. These are categorical technologies such as “assisted picking robots” or “robotic arms” rather than the technologies of specific technology providers.
There are currently more than 1500 go-lives of technologies that passed through the productization phase into commercialization and industrialization. This article will focus on a few of the new robotic applications.