Deutsche Post DHL tests new development in Express delivery
- SmartTruck pilot project tests innovative route planning in Berlin
- Technology promises better service for customers and lowers CO2 emissions
Deutsche Post DHL today presented its SmartTruck pilot project in Berlin. Two delivery vehicles fitted with dynamic route planning software will operate along routes in the downtown Mitte district of Berlin from the coming week.
In so doing, Deutsche Post DHL is not only testing the functionality and efficiency of a completely new technology, it is also hoping to make a meaningful contribution towards climate protection. "A concept such as this is completely new in the industry," said Dr. Keith Ulrich, Head of Technology & Innovation Management at Deutsche Post DHL.
"Dynamic route planning not only calculates the best route in advance, the system is also the first to account for real-time traffic information in inner city areas, for example traffic jams or construction sites, and adapts the route accordingly." This is made possible by monitoring DHL vehicles and almost 500 Berlin taxis using GPS (Global Positioning System), enabling for the first time traffic flows in inner city areas to be measured and responded to accordingly.
This not only saves on costs and time, but also reduces the vehicle's fuel consumption and CO2 emissions," says Ulrich. "If the technology proves successful, we will be looking at a significant improvement in our customer service thanks to this innovation."
The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology supports the project as part of its initiative "Intelligent logistics in goods transportation and commercial transactions - innovation push for the markets of tomorrow" (Intelligente Logistik im Güter- und Wirtschaftsverkehr - Innovationsoffensive für die Märkte von morgen).
Andreas Liessern from the Traffic Technologies department: "The objective of SmartTruck, a publicly funded research project, is proving how with intelligent technology our inner cities can be relieved of traffic and at the same time the efficiency of logistics companies can be increased. This is a building block in a chain of measures which form part of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology's key promotion 'Intelligent logistics.' "
Improved service and greater planning security
SmartTrucks are not only designed to help protect the environment. They also improve the service for senders and recipients. Transported mail items have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) smart tags attached to them.
These enable vehicle loads to be recorded and monitored on an ongoing basis. With SmartTruck, DHL is able to achieve greater precision in pick-up and delivery, can respond better to ad hoc orders and give precise pick-up times. Customers will be notified by SMS of the planned pick-up time of their mail items.
SmartTruck technology was developed in the Group's own DHL Innovation Center. In addition to the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center), Deutsche Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence), Motorola and Quintiq are involved in the project.
During the three-month pilot phase both SmartTrucks will make around 500 pick-up and delivery stops every day alongside other vehicles whose routes have been dynamically planned. Once the tests have been successfully completed the plan is to deploy SmartTrucks on some 160 Express routes in Berlin as well as in other inner city areas, rural areas and abroad.
Innovative technologies for climate protection
SmartTruck is an example of how Deutsche Post DHL is using innovative technologies to conserve its resources. In his "Strategy 2015" presentation last week CEO Frank Appel reaffirmed that the GoGreen program is a significant component of this strategy. With GoGreen the company was the first global logistics provider to set a climate protection target in April 2008. By 2020 the Group intends to improve the carbon efficiency of its own business activities as well as those of its sub-contractors by 30 percent.
This means that Deutsche Post DHL will reduce emissions for every letter mailed, every ton shipped and every square meter of space used by almost one third compared with 2007 levels. In an initial phase the carbon efficiency of its own activities is to be improved by ten percent by 2012. The focus is on optimizing the air and vehicle fleet, increasing energy efficiency, developing innovative technologies, motivating employees to be more environmentally aware and integrating customers and sub-contractors.