It was a stern warning: Only the fast and innovative ones, implementing new technologies in combination with social acceptance, will win. In contrast, the rest will stay behind or even disappear from the landscape. A prediction made by DHL manager Markus Kueckelhaus during a recently-held cargo convention in Frankfurt organized by the local Air Cargo Community.
DHL’s VP Innovation & Trend Research Markus Kueckelhaus doesn’t beat around the bush but tells it straight forward: “Today, 80 percent of all warehouse operations are still done manually; the
container just celebrated its 60th birthday but ‘smart containerization’ remains being a foreign word.” Roughly every fourth company in transportation and logistics still has no digital
They drastically illustrate the inability of wide parts of the logistics and air cargo industry to react positively and make practical use of innovations made in robotic, artificial intelligence or electronic data exchange, driving the business forward. A very sobering finding, indeed!
However, despite his rather critical introductory remarks it was not the aim of the DHL manager, as emphasized in his presentation, to bash the industry for their inertia and lack of will to go beyond self-imposed limits and leave old, well-trodden paths behind. On the contrary, in a nutshell his message to the audience consisting of roughly 100 air freight and logistics top shots was: ‘take risks, encourage your management and staff to tap the technical and commercial potential of business areas while opening up new avenues into the future’.
At first sight a rather vague advice everyone can immediately subscribe to, but in reality, an important wakeup call because the industry tends to move too slow, risking losing ground to new disruptors. Exemplified by Dr Kueckelhaus when tabling the widely discussed digitalization issue.
The opportunities are huge, he stated, but only if appropriate actions are taken. Nearly 40 percent of all data generated by 2020 will come from connected sensors. Studies show that the market size of the global Internet of Things (IoT) will be valued at €1.4 trillion (US$1.7 trillion) by 2020. And maintenance costs can be reduced by 25% through IoT.
Citing a McKinsey study, Kueckelhaus emphasized that “the biggest future impact on revenue and EBIT growth is set to occur through the digitalization of Supply Chains.” Once processes are fully e-driven, revenue grows 2/3 and EBIT leaps even 3/4. Remarkable gains, no logistics player should miss.
DHL surely doesn’t, he exclaimed, placing the integrator up front in technological innovations like automation, robotics, artificial intelligence or green energy logistics to name but a few.
Long list of innovative projects
Some examples: An electrically powered Street Scooter is just being developed for intra-urban delivery of parcels. “We want to produce 20,000 Scooters per year but do not intend to become a car manufacturer on the long run,” Kueckelhaus said. Other topics standing on their list of innovations are the vision-based sorting of packages, an autonomous operating cleaning machine deployed in warehouses, adhere solar panels to trucks, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent per vehicle, maturing IoT technology from 2G to 3G for developing new big data driven services based on Sensor Networks, this way making transports along the entire value chain completely transparent. Last mile delivery services from follow-me to full autonomy is another project standing on DHL’s agenda packed with a multitude of innovations and improvements.
Mr. Kueckelhaus’ final advice to his listeners: “The future starts today. Let’s shape it together!” An encouraging remark that is hard to argue against.
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