DHL Supply Chain focuses on investing to address ‘The Most Unpredictable Peak Season Ever’

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor · August 25, 2020

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in LM’s sister publication, Supply Chain Management Review.

DHL Supply Chain, is preparing for an anticipated surge in demand in the fourth quarter of 2020 by hiring additional workers and leveraging its investments in technology and infrastructure to support shippers.

The third party logistics provider today announced that it will hire 7,000 associates through the end of 2020 to meet demand fueled both by the peak holiday shopping season and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“’Peak season’ for contract logistics providers typically takes place in the late summer months and is driven principally by a surge in retail inventory, which has increasingly moved to online channels in recent years,” says Scott Sureddin, CEO, DHL Supply Chain North America.

“This year, with an accelerated shift toward e-commerce, non-retail industries potentially seeing a resurgence in pent-up demand, and consumer goods and life sciences and healthcare companies continuing to ramp up their production capabilities, many of our customers are facing their most unpredictable fourth quarter ever.”

According to Sureddin, DHL Supply Chain’s investments are aimed at providing shippers with both the operational certainty and the flexibility that they will need to adjust their supply chains to meet consumer demand.

“With 7,000 additional associates, we are making investments ahead of the curve in anticipation of a strong peak, and also providing welcome support to our existing workforce, which has worked so tirelessly throughout 2020,” he adds.

According to Armstrong & Associates, Inc. (A&A’s) newest report, “VOLATILE – Latest Third-Party Logistics Market Results and Predictions for 2020 Including Estimates for 190 Countries,” e-commerce continues to be the most rapidly growing third-party logistics (3PL) segment.

“With COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns, Value-Added Warehousing and Distribution (VAWD) had significant growth in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce fulfillment activity during the first half of 2020, while business-to-business (B2B) activity waned.,” says A&A’s president Evan Armstrong,

DHL Supply Chain has announced a number of investments in technology and infrastructure in 2020 that are targeted in particular at the retail and life sciences and healthcare industries. In March, it committed to expand its fleet of LocusBot collaborative robots to 1,000 by the end of the year in order to boost productivity and throughput, primarily in its retail and life sciences and healthcare operations.

As reported in SCMR last June, DHL Supply Chain announced an investment of $60 million in its life sciences and healthcare network, building on a $150 million investment that it committed to the sector in 2019 The company also established a dedicated E-Commerce sector this year to strengthen its operational and commercial focus on this fast-growing segment and to support shippers who are building out new online and omnichannel offerings.

While contributing to a massive shift in volume dynamics and channels to customers across all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has also added a new layer of operational complexity to this year’s peak season. DHL Supply Chain has been forced to make a number of adjustments within its facilities to allow for the proper social distancing to keep the increased number of associates safe.

Concludes the company:

The use of collaborative robots and accelerated digitalization in many of the company’s operations will help to ensure that safety protocols are followed even with higher volumes. DHL Supply Chain’s Operations and Engineering teams in North America have also taken steps to redesign existing infrastructure and processes and to build out additional capacity to handle the upcoming peak.

August 25, 2020