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DHL Brings IOT to Supply Chain Management

vincent Lemuwa

DHL Supply Chain, in partnership with Cisco and start-up Conduce, is implementing Internet of things (IOT) technology to optimise operational efficiency in the warehouse environment.

DHL Supply Chain is the contract logistics unit within DHL Group, which offers logistics services ranging from national and international parcel delivery, e-commerce shipping and international express, road, air and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management in more than 220 countries worldwide.

According to the company, the implemented IOT solution enables DHL to monitor operational activities in real-time, through a responsive graphical visualisation of operational data drawn from sensors on scanners, helping decision-makers achieve improved measurable results.

All material-handling equipment used in performing the warehouse processes is monitored, including receiving and storage of couriered goods, picking of products for order fulfilment and loading of products for delivery, adds the company.

The logistics company says it is testing the technology in Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, with plans to bring it to SA soon.

"Through our collaboration with Cisco and Conduce, we are integrating innovative solutions to build the digital supply chain of tomorrow today. This is changing the way we collect, analyse and use data, and ultimately, our ways of working at these sites. By monitoring operational activities in real-time rather than retrospectively, we can interpret data more meaningfully, and immediately re-engineer processes or warehouse layouts to boost operational efficiency and address potential safety blind spots in a warehouse," says Markus Voss, CIO and COO, DHL Supply Chain.

The company says its customers will benefit from Cisco's WiFi infrastructure, which obtains location services, and Conduce's intuitive interface used to access and visualise all the organisation's data.

Kevin Parent, CEO of Conduce, says visualising operational data with heat maps has changed the way data is analysed and used, and is expected to contribute to operational efficiencies.

"The platform does not just display operational data; it unlocks insights on how well warehouses are running by pulling together data of all elements in a warehouse environment into one unified, engaging interface. Conduce helps decision-makers at DHL achieve improved, measurable results in the real world," he explains.

Paul Stone, DHL Supply Chain CEO Africa, says the company collaborates closely with customers, technology experts and think tanks to proactively develop digital solutions aimed at transforming the industry.

"I am excited to be at the forefront of this innovative digital supply chain solution. The ability to monitor operational activities in the warehouse in real-time provides DHL the opportunity to proactively re-engineer processes. This way we further enhance the service levels provided to our customers, improve productivity, and provide a platform for our people to be safe in the workplace," he points out.