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DHL adds smart monitoring and inventory technologies at its Chicago Gateway  


Chicago, IL — DHL Global Forwarding is expanding its portfolio of new services and technologies to support the company’s focus on key growth sectors, particularly in life sciences and healthcare logistics. Included in the new technologies is an RFID passive and active tracking system installed in its Chicago warehouse, the largest standalone airfreight facility in the international DHL Global Forwarding network. Additionally, the company is introducing new alternative temperature management import and export solutions for its life science and healthcare customers that will help to reduce demurrage costs and new DHL SmartSensors that ensure temperature-sensitive shipments are monitored throughout the transportation process,

“By making digitalization and automation a priority, we recognize that we can deliver meaningful service and productivity improvements to our customers,”  David Goldberg, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding US, told a gathering of press invited to the facility, including Canadian Shipper. “These new services meet our customers’ needs including better and quicker visibility on rates and routes, more responsiveness from their transportation providers, and the knowledge that their shipments are secure. This is particularly important to industry sectors such as life sciences and healthcare, which have highly sophisticated and specialized requirements.”

With the new RFID tag technology, the Chicago warehouse will be able to detect, without manual scanning, where a container is from the moment it arrives at the warehouse to the moment it leaves. The technology, mostly used at airports and by airlines, was implemented in June in the 430,000 square foot warehouse.

“Few freight forwarders have this type of technology in place; meanwhile, DHL Global Forwarding is using it to manage all of its Chicago warehouse cargo inventory,” said Christopher

Gonsowski, Station Manager for DHL Global Forwarding, Chicago. “The RFID passive and active technology will help us eliminate manual processes, reduce costs and time in our warehouse, and respond more quickly to any exceptions in the transport process.”

To further improve warehouse automation, DHL Global Forwarding has installed new weight and dimension technology to enable a package to be processed in a faster and more efficient way. Traditional weight and dim processes involved putting cargo on a scale, printing a scale ticket, manually attaching the scale ticket to a dimension sheet, and using a tape measure to measure the length, width and height. The new technology incorporates scales into the forklifts with an overhead dimension measuring unit, which sends the data directly to the scale ticket printer where the weight and dimensions are printed on the label. This saves approximately 15 – 20 seconds per piece, equaling 111 hours per week of time savings for export shipments.

As temperature control in distribution becomes more important for more products, particularly in sectors such as life sciences and healthcare, DHL Global Forwarding is launching the newly updated DHL SmartSensor temperature data logger. Using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the sensors log in-transit temperature data of highly sensitive life sciences and healthcare shipments and power DHL’s key temperature-controlled products including DHL Air Thermonet and DHL Ocean Thermonet. The connected sensors record ambient environmental temperature conditions during shipping, functioning at temperatures between -40 and +60 degrees Celsius. Benefits include faster uploading of temperature data, without the need for specific scanners or devices, which makes them more cost effective and easy to use.

“We understand the challenges and sensitivities that come with transporting temperature-controlled products,” said Patricia Cole, Global Head of DHL Temperature Management Solutions. “The new DHL SmartSensors are part of the need to provide a holistic range of patient-centric solutions and deliver them in a safe and timely manner. We ensure that our customers’ medical products will be treated with the utmost care, as we understand what is at stake – a life that will be improved or in some cases even saved.”

For air freight importers and exporters shipping temperature controlled life sciences and healthcare cargo in active refrigerated containers to and from Chicago, DHL Global Forwarding also now offers more options with pre-cooled trailers when recovering the shipments from the airline. Instead of companies having to lease that high-cost temperature controlled equipment, which if not returned on time can result in thousands of dollars per day in demurrage costs, DHL can eliminate those costs through the use of its refrigerated trailers. DHL consolidates the cargo and uses refrigerated trailers to maintain the cargo at its required temperature while transporting it to its warehouse or the cargo’s final destination.

“We have used this alternative temperature controlled method with various large pharmaceutical customers,” said Gonsowski. “Through our extensive expertise handling temperature sensitive pharmaceutical products, we follow all necessary good distribution practices and monitor shipments at all times for any temperature excursions.”

These new technologies and solutions follow on the heels of the launch of myDHLi Quote & Book, a new convenient online service for comparing quotations and making instant bookings, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for air and ocean freight and even for door-to-door shipments.

Inaugurated in 2015, the DHL Global Forwarding Chicago facility has direct access to the O’Hare Airport airside facilities, giving DHL Global Forwarding a unique capability among freight forwarders. It is the first DHL Global Forwarding facility in the country to become an IATA CEIV Pharma Certified Life Science Competence Center.