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DHL: ‘These 6 technologies will change logistics by 2030’

Just like ecommerce is still evolving, the logistics industry will look entirely different in the next 5 to 15 years. Markus Kückelhaus from DHL is looking at innovations and trends every day and has great expectations of six different technologies, that he thinks will change the logistics industry by 2030.

Kückehlaus shared his vision of the logistics industry during Nordic Delivery Conference 2016. “Logistics used to be a quite boring industry with a very low level of innovation. But now we see many start-up companies that try to improve efficiency in different areas of logistics. This makes the industry much more interesting than in the past”, he said during his presentation.

He explained how DHL is continuously investigating trends that they think will affect the future of the logistics industry. They develop and test these trends at the company’s innovation centers in Bonn and Singapore. DHL also regularly publishes a report, the Logistics Trend Radar, with the trends they’ve observed. According to Kückelhaus, these are the six technologies that will affect the logistics industry within the next 5 to 15 years:

Big data

DHL has done tests with big data in risk management, so they could advise their customers and suppliers proactively on potentially failed shipments.

Sensor technology

DHL wants to increase the use of sensors in logistics and sees a potential in using sensors, such as motion and depth sensors, to tell how much room there is left on a pallet, truck or at a warehouse.

Augmented reality

DHL has conducted successful tests with augmented reality glasses on warehouse staff, when they pick goods. These glasses can scan barcodes, show the picking list, where goods are located and where the goods should be places. DHL is now launching the smart glasses in warehouses across Europe, USA and Asia.

3D printing

DHL has done tests with 3D printing on the types of goods they have at their own warehouses, but there is still challenges in terms of quality, cost and product liability. Up to 80 percent of their goods aren’t suitable for 3D printing. Nonetheless, the logistics company sees a great potential in 3D printing, for example in niche healthcare markets.

Robots

About 80 percent of warehouses around the world are manually managed. DHL is currently testing robots that integrate with the warehouse operators. The self-driving picking trolley is one of these example. It can follow the operator and when its full, it can drive back to the packing station and send another, empty, picking trolley back to the picking operative.

Drones

DHL expects a lot from drones. Jus like any other major logistics company it seems. It successfully tested its own drone, the Parcelcopter, in Germany in May this year. “A lot is already possible with drones, but the biggest challenge is the regulatory aspect, especially in Germany and European countries in general.”

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