DHL presents its supply chain strategy for 2025

DHL

DHL has strengthened its committed to the development and implementation of innovations. That was the key takeaway from a media briefing on the company’s supply chain strategy for 2025 held at the Innovation Center in Troisdorf, Germany, on 27 November. The objective is to improve quality and reduce costs. By collaborating with start-ups DHL intends to take a proactive approach to further developing all promising projects, according to Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) Markus Voss.

By Janine Zandbergen

DHL’s new supply chain strategy is based on a fast, agile way of working enabling a proof of concept to be developed as quickly as possible. Because start-ups usually have a local focus, the first tests will be run in nearby warehouses. If the results are positive, DHL will immediately start to roll out the innovation on a larger scale in similar warehouses elsewhere.

This new strategy will improve the company’s performance regarding new technologies. In the past, because communication between DHL’s various locations was limited, successful innovations were often not implemented throughout the organization. Now, building warehouses close to partners will create synergies enabling the larger-scale sharing of knowledge and information. This will make it easier to adopt a successful innovation, enabling various partners to benefit from one another.

Three fundamentals of innovation

According to Markus Kückelhaus, Vice President of Innovation and Trend Research, DHL has identified three fundamentals of innovation: flexibility, the environment and user-friendliness. Since the market is changing rapidly and a warehouse should preferably remain up to date for longer than a year, the technologies must be adaptable in order to keep pace. At the Technology Campus in Beringe, for example, a packaging robot (see image) has improved the efficiency of pallet wrapping.

However, DHL has also set itself the goal of becoming a greener company by 2050, and that includes zero carbon emissions. Therefore, it is highly likely that the robot will have to be adapted in line with this environmental target. Besides that, it is important that warehouse operatives find it easy to work with the innovative solutions and are able to solve any problems themselves, without having to enlist the help of IT professionals.

Longer-term contracts

The increasing use of innovations also means a slightly different approach to contract negotiations. In the past, contracts have tended to be flexible and with a short duration – just one or two years. However, this is no longer enough to cover the costs of an investment-intensive innovation. Therefore, DHL will be asking customers who intend to make use of such innovations to sign longer-term contracts, often for up to five or even ten years.