DHL’s IDEA for making e-fulfilment more efficient

DHL’s IDEA for making e-fulfilment more efficient

DHL Supply Chain is making e-fulfilment for online shops more efficient with its IDEA ‘plug and play’ software solution which uses algorithmic analysis and data science to optimise picking routes and warehouse staff allocation.

In a statement issued today (12 August), DHL explained why the need for e-fulfilment optimisation is now greater than: “The COVID crisis has resulted in steadily growing online sales. Especially online orders of everyday staples, such as food, medicines and other drugstore products, are higher today than before the pandemic. The trend poses challenges for retailers worldwide. In many cases, orders have increased, but the size of shipments is smaller. New and more diversified product ranges means more stock keeping units for online retailers. Moreover, end customers expect fast, sometimes even same-day delivery with high transparency and traceability.”

In order “to meet these challenging e-commerce needs”, DHL Supply Chain said that it is now “increasingly relying on intelligent, IT-based forecasting and analysis tools to optimize warehousing and processing of online orders for major e-sellers”.

Markus Voss, CIO & COO at DHL Supply Chain, explained how the company is using its IDEA to find solutions for its customers: “The COVID crisis has shown us that unforeseen volume fluctuations for individual products can put enormous stress on supply chains. Lack of clarity regarding stock levels and incorrect data on availability can lead to bottlenecks for individual products and then delays in delivering to end customers.

“We are working with our customers –large online stores and retail companies – on more stress-resilient, reliable algorithms and tools to better anticipate demand fluctuations, optimise the allocation of manpower and thereby accelerate the throughput of goods and order cycles.”

Dietmar Steins, EVP Solutions Design at DHL Supply Chain, added: “Our IDEA analysis tool is one of our many answers to these e-commerce challenges.

“With its algorithm, this ‘artificial intelligence’ solution helps optimize picking routes within the warehouse. Orders are also clustered logically, which helps optimize picking by our colleagues in the warehouses. The integrated, intelligent task planning can also optimize workload distribution for warehouse staff and help prioritize more time-critical shipments. Moreover, IDEA reduces error rates as well as the time required for employee training.”

DHL said that the IDEA algorithm can “significantly improve” order-picking processes in DHL-operated warehouses, and the costs involved are “comparatively low” since the software, developed by DHL, is compatible with most traditional warehouse management systems and can be integrated easily into existing IT infrastructure. In its first commercial deployments, the solution has reduced distance travelled by warehouse employees by up to 50% and increased productivity of individual DHL locations by up to 30%.

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