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Key takeaways

Complex delivery processes can be optimized with innovative technologies to arrive at customers’ doorsteps faster.

The most useful technologies automate areas of the supply chain prone to slowdowns and human error, like parcel scanning and sorting.

New distribution and sorting facilities like the DHL South Asia Hub can scan thousands of items an hour.

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How can deliveries be sped up? One answer: automation

Expectations are on the rise for faster and more reliable deliveries.  Whether it’s sending a gift to a friend overseas for his or her birthday, or receiving the latest phone or camera just in time for your next holiday, we rely on our purchases arriving on-time, all the time.  That’s especially true when demand is at its highest – during festive periods, massive sales events like Singles’ Day, or following the launch of the latest and greatest smartphone. If one person receives their deliveries fast, everyone expects the same.

Behind every single express delivery lies a complex process that ensures your packages are always accounted for and delivered on time. But as shipment volumes grow and expectations rise, how do logistics companies keep everything running smoothly? It all comes down to speed, precision and more than a little dose of innovation. Here’s how the process goes:

  1. Arrival: Don’t drop the catch
    International express companies can’t afford breaks in their operations or their packages; one of the biggest fears of any customer is to receive damaged goods or experience unexpected delays. As soon as an inbound parcel arrives by air, it is transferred from the plane to the sorting center or air express hub at the airport.

    Sorting center technologies…are the “unsung heroes” that get your shipments and documents delivered to you quickly and in the best condition.

    The smarter way: Some teams get help from technologies like telescopic conveyors, which can stretch inside the containers for faster and easier unloading. Man-lifters also make it easy for the teams to reach shipments at the top of tall containers. As parcel movements are minimized, the risk of dropping parcels is also reduced.
  2. Distribution: Balancing speed and accuracy
    Before a parcel can leave for its destination, the sorting system at the facility must first know where it should go, typically done by scanning the barcode on the parcel. If the package needs to go through the security procedures, it will be fed manually to the X-ray scanners and inspected for any contraband or hazardous materials.

    The smarter way: Barcodes typically require a fair amount of manual labor – either scanning them by hand, or making sure parcels are placed with barcodes at the top where the scanners are. Multi-dimensional scanners, however, read all six sides of a parcel to dramatically speed up the rate of package identification. Covering all six sides means more parcels scanned and less man-hours spent preparing the parcels for scanning. Automated X-ray scanners have the ability to scan shipments at an extremely fast rate, ensuring shipment integrity without having to slow down deliveries.
  3. Sorting: Put deliveries on autopilot
    Sorting systems handle such a massive number of shipments and documents that even the most skilled team can’t keep up without automation. Some automated systems can sort a vast amount of shipments and documents per hour, directing parcels down the right conveyor tracks with a series of induction systems. During this final stage of the sorting process, the system feeds the parcel down the right destination slide, after which it’s loaded into a container for its flight to its final destination.

    The smarter way: Automated processes still need human oversight in case of emergencies. In the best logistics hubs, hundreds of CCTV cameras – and dedicated team of observers watching them – will be tracking parcels and conveyors at any given time, to ensure parcels aren’t tampered with or diverted without authorization. Smart CCTV cameras make it a whole lot easier to track down parcels by their unique number code. At the simple touch of a button, all video frames that the shipment appeared in are called up to quickly and accurately locate it. 

Animated GIF of DHL South Asia Hub floor plan, showing movement of parcels

South Asia Hub: An automated sorting facility for your every need

Sorting center technologies like those mentioned earlier are the “unsung heroes” that get your shipments and documents delivered to you quickly and in the best condition. To continue fulfilling this customer promise, DHL Express opened a new €85 million South Asia Hub that will accelerate delivery speeds for customers in Singapore and in the region.

Housing the first fully automated express parcel sorting and processing system in South Asia, this logistics powerhouse can handle up to 628 tonnes of cargo per day at peak capacity, three times faster than previous systems. On top of that, the facility has the ability to sort up to 24,000 shipments and documents per hour, with automated X-ray scanners which are able to scan up to 7,200 pieces of shipment within the same timeframe.

Efficient as it may be, the South Asia Hub alone can’t deal with all the orders from our customers – not by a long shot. To do that, the strength of a global network is critical. The South Asia Hub links to over 70 DHL Express Gateways throughout the region, and ultimately to over 20 hubs around the world, providing the most efficient international express connectivity. In fact, we employ more than 24,000 people around Asia to do so! When you next find yourself anxiously waiting for a parcel to arrive or if you need to send a parcel out urgently, trust the teams and technologies operating behind the scenes to make your delivery as simple as possible – even if the work they do is anything but.

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