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Deutsche Post DHL will be focusing more and more on the network of Packstations it has across the country and less on innovations such as delivery robots and parcel boxes installed at customers’ homes.
That’s what CEO Frank Appel said in an interview with Der Tagesspiegel. In the interview, Appel talked about the difficult year of 2018, in which the earnings forecast was surprisingly cut from 4.2 to 3.2 billion euros. He ensured however that having to save costs didn’t go at the expense of innovation.
Automation will take place in warehouses
The company is still trying out a lot. For example, it has a robot that drives behind the delivery man to carry his letters and parcels. “Or we measure the inventory and monitor the security with drones.” He thinks automation will first take place in areas where the entire system is under control, such as in sorting centers or warehouses.
‘In 30 years, people still deliver parcels’
“In delivery, however, there’s still a very long way to go. It’s not enough to bring a package somewhere by using a robot. Because it has to recognize where the bell is, if it’s the right address or name and what will happen if the customer isn’t there.”, Appel explains. “So, I believe that even in 20 or 30 years’ time, we will still have people to deliver parcels. But we will then make use of technical aids, such as exoskeletons that can carry heavy packages. And perhaps, even small, high-quality items such as smartphones will be delivered by drones.”
Deutsche Post DHL has been experimenting with delivery robots, but Appel says these devices are still too expensive. He thinks it will need some innovation leaps until it will finally pay off. That’s why DHL is backing down on the experiments with delivery robots. Instead, it focuses increasingly on parcel stations, something it has been doing for almost twenty years now. “We now have 3,500 Packstations nationwide and are systematically expanding them. The only question is how quickly you can find suitable places for them.”
He also reveals that DHL is backing down on the parcel boxes that customers can install at their homes. “The demand was significantly lower than we expected. Now, we have to think of something new. But trying out is the beauty of entrepreneurship.”