The parcel delivery industry is undergoing a transformative shift as companies increasingly embrace artificial intelligence and robotics to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and elevate customer experiences. Major players like Evri, DHL Express and PostNord are at the forefront of this revolution, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to automate time-consuming tasks, optimize workforce planning, and fortify security measures. From AI-powered robotic arms that can sort thousands of parcels per hour with remarkable accuracy to computer vision systems that verify safe deliveries and detect fraudulent claims, these innovations are reshaping the logistics landscape. As e-commerce continues to surge, investing in AI and robotics has become imperative for parcel delivery companies to meet soaring demand, reduce labor costs, and maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly technology-driven industry.

Evri introduces AI to improve operations

Evri, a major UK parcel delivery company, is making a significant £1 million investment in an artificial intelligence strategy aimed at transforming its operations. The AI strategy has three core focus areas: improving customer service, enhancing parcel security, and optimizing workforce planning. Evri has partnered with AI consultancy Robiquity and formed an “AI Centre of Excellence” team to spearhead this transformative work leveraging AI’s capabilities.

On the customer service front, AI will be utilized to automate simple data collection and issue identification tasks, thereby freeing up human customer service agents to concentrate on resolving more complex matters. This is expected to expedite resolutions and provide a consistently elevated service experience. For parcel security, AI-powered tools will quickly analyze delivery photo data to verify if parcels are being safely left at doorsteps and will cross-check claims data against geo-locations and images to detect potential fraudulent claims. This builds upon Evri’s existing ParcelVision technology that monitors all courier delivery photos in real-time. AI will also play a pivotal role in workforce planning by analyzing data to forecast future demands accurately. This will enable Evri to have the right staffing levels at the right locations, enhancing efficiency and delivery success rates.

Looking ahead, Evri plans to leverage augmented reality headsets for accelerating new courier training by simulating real-world delivery scenarios and teaching optimal response protocols to achieve high customer satisfaction levels.

DHL Express introduces DHLBot to automate parcel sorting

DHL Express has introduced DHLBot, an AI-powered robotic arm that automates parcel sorting, in two countries in Asia Pacific. The DHLBot can sort over 1,000 small parcels per hour with 99% accuracy, reducing mis-sorts and the need for secondary sorting. It uses 3D and barcode cameras to scan each package and intelligently sorts them into delivery bins for specific courier routes. The robot complements manual sorting to enable hubs to handle greater volumes, increasing overall operational efficiency by at least 40%.

The implementation of DHLBot follows a successful pilot that boosted parcel sortation productivity and service quality. It addresses the consistent growth in shipment volumes across Asia Pacific, with DHL Express recording a 17.3% year-on-year increase during the 2020 peak season. The AI-powered robot reduces labor demands during peaks, translates to a safer work environment for employees, and allows couriers more time for route planning. The DHLBot initiative aligns with Deutsche Post DHL Group’s Strategy 2025, which involves investing around €2 billion in automation, robotics, and advanced data analytics to derive greater operational efficiency.

PostNord tests AI robotic arm for parcel sorting

PostNord recently completed a 6-month pilot project testing the use of an AI robotic arm for parcel sorting at its Rosersberg terminal in Sweden. The project used sophisticated camera technology to allow the AI robot to identify and pick up small parcels from a bulk flow, sorting them onto the correct conveyor belt. It proved highly efficient, roughly twice as fast as a human worker, with very low error rates even when running 24/7.

Beyond just increasing productivity, the AI robot also helped improve workplace ergonomics and safety by automating repetitive lifting and sorting tasks that can cause strain injuries for human workers. PostNord sees automated singulation of parcels using AI robotics as a cost-effective way to feed existing sorting facilities while reducing manual labor costs.

The pilot was deemed a success, and PostNord is now evaluating how to scale up deployment of AI robots across more of its mail terminals. The company also sees potential to use similar AI robotics technology for parcel sorting in the future. PostNord views AI and automation as key to remaining profitable and competitive long-term in the logistics industry.

Author: Paul Chapman

Source: Ti Insight

You must be logged in to post comments