International express service provider DHL Express is now using a robotic arm that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate parcel sortation in its facilities in Singapore and South Korea.

Called DHLBot, the robotic arm can sort over 1,000 small parcels per hour with 99% accuracy, reducing the need for secondary sorting.

This enables DHL Express to increase its overall operational efficiency by at least 40%, and handle greater volumes, especially during peak season. The company recorded a 17.3% year-on-year increase in shipment volume during the peak months of November and December last year.

Here is how DHLBot works: 3D and barcode cameras scan the airway bill on each package for its targeted destination as it travels through a conveyor belt. The DHLBot, which is positioned at the end of the conveyor belt, receives the package’s information and destination before intelligently sorting it into respective delivery bins that sit on racks surrounding the robot, each representing an individual courier route.

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This entire process reduces the dependency on employees to manually read waybills and sort parcels, allowing them to have more time for route planning.

“This smart sortation robot enables us to manage the increasing growth of shipment and parcel volume driven by the rise of cross-border e-commerce. It also translates to a safer work environment for our employees, as it lifts their efficiency during peak season when labour demand is high,” says Sean Wall, executive vice president, Network Operations & Aviation, DHL Express Asia Pacific.

The DHLBot was implemented with the help of Dorabot, an AI-powered robotic solution provider.

The deployment is one of many digital transformation projects that the Deutsche Post DHL Group is investing in to improve customer and employee experience, as well as enhance operational excellence. Till 2025, the Group would spend around EUR 2 billion ($3.18 billion) on initiatives to derive greater efficiency through automation and robotics as well as advanced data analytics.

Photo: DHL Express