- At a joint conference with Formula E — a class of auto racing that only allows electric-powered cars — in Brooklyn, NY, DHL CEO Ken Allen announced that the company will break ground on its first U.S.-based DHL Innovation Center in Chicago. DHL Communications Manager Pamela Duque confirmed to Supply Chain Dive that the new innovation center will break ground in October of this year.
- DHL recently announced a goal to produce zero net emissions by 2050, and in order to accomplish this goal, the logistics company has been testing automation and artificial intelligence technology to help adapt its supply chain.
- By expanding to the U.S., DHL will put pressure on locally-based logistics providers — FedEx, UPS, and even Amazon — that may accelerate innovation within DHL and other logistics companies toward fewer emissions and more nimble supply chains.
DHL currently operates only one Innovation Center, located in Bonn, Germany, but that one center has already produced valuable technological contributions to the company, including the Parcelcopter and the EffiBOT. During the press conference, DHL revealed that it is testing the Parcelcopter, which is the company's version of a delivery drone, to deliver packages in extreme weather conditions and to remote locations, and will soon start implementing the EffiBOT — a cart that scans a human, then follows that human wherever he or she leads — to assist warehouse workers with order picking and carrying loads within warehouses.
Automation and AI will not only streamline DHL's supply chain, but it will also produce greater cost savings and a sharper competitive edge against companies like FedEx and UPS, who trail in innovation. DHL CEO Ken Allen also told Supply Chain Dive that DHL is working toward building a fully electric trucking fleet by 2050. Currently, DHL's entire New York City fleet uses only hybrid electric trucks.
Because the breaking ground announcement occurred over this past weekend, DHL has not produced a press release and does not currently have more information on the innovation center, except to confirm that it will be located in Chicago and break ground in October.