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INTELLIGENT SHIPPING DOCUMENTATION IN DISTRIBUTION CENTERS
Are you one of the 78 % of the German population who has ever bought something over the Internet? And it‘s not just in Germany that the convenient way of shopping with just a few clicks has grown in popularity over the years, thanks to convenience and attractive prices. A large part of the success of e-commerce is down to the parcel carriers, because without them, a reliable and speedy delivery of the goods ordered online would be unthinkable. So it is no wonder that the market for courier, express and parcel delivery services has grown faster in the last 15 years than the German economy as a whole.
Business has also developed very positively during this time for DPD in Germany. As one of the leading suppliers of parcel delivery services in Germany, the company operates 75 hubs across the country, where shipments are collected and distributed to the deliverers. At peak times, some of these centers are handling up to 100,000 shipments a day. In order to be able to handle such an amount of shipments efficiently, the hubs are equipped with the latest technology, such as automated parcel conveyor and scanning systems. Since reliability and security are amongst the most important quality criteria in the parcel logistics industry, DPD has been deploying video-based systems for some time in order to be able to track individual parcel movements within the hubs at all times. As part of the modernisation of the DPD hub in Heilbronn, it was decided to install a video solution for documenting the sorting and handover processes. Initially, the planning basis was a specification document that had been drawn up by DPD for earlier projects, which to a large extent was oriented around the possibilities offered by analogue video technology. However, it very rapidly became clear that modern IP-based video systems, e.g. those using cameras with HD resolution, can support the processes in the distribution center even better. So a new list of requirements was put together that also included the possibilities offered by IP technology. As well as providing shipment tracking that was as simple to operate and as user-friendly as possible, for clarification in cases where parcels had gone missing and for optimising the organisational processes, the solution deployed was also to cover the monitoring of the site, including loading bays and access roads.
During discussions between DPD and M.N.O. Stühler GmbH & Co. KG, who has been providing DPD hubs with video management systems for years and who has extensive experience in this area, the focus therefore turned to us. Qognify, with one of its development hubs in the Karlsruhe Technology Region, not only offers scalable and extremely powerful VMS software, together with M.N.O. it has developed an industry-specific video solution, tailored specifically to the needs and processes of parcel logistics companies. Those responsible for deciding on right system were particularly impressed by the system-concept for equipping DPD locations. The Qognify Logistic solution uses only one server for the complete system, which reduces energy costs by up to 50 % compared to a recorder-based system. The flexibility of the Cayuga Multi-Solution Platform means that the system can be extended at any time through the addition of new modules, e.g., if intelligent image analysis needs to be deployed to secure the perimeter fence or if the vehicles driving onto the site are to have their number plates automatically identified and recorded. Manfred Gügel, MD at M.N.O. points out a further benefit: "By separating hard- and software, system components can be exchanged or extended independently of each other. This way, technological innovations, such as more powerful servers, can be taken into account at any time, which makes the investment sustainable going forward."
The Qognify Logistic Solution was integrated seamlessly into the processes at the DPD hub. The complete parcel processing within the distribution centre, from delivery through sorting and distribution to the final handover to the delivery companies is documented and recorded in the video system, using network cameras with HD resolution. In addition, the video system is synchronised with the automatic conveyor belts used to transport the shipments through the building. All incoming parcels are recorded and automatically processed in the system as they are unloaded. If the final delivery transaction is missing or faulty, the shipment number is recorded by the ERP system in an error report that then serves as the basis for the manual investigation. As a rule, the error report is processed once a day by the DPD employee responsible for tracking missing shipments, by selecting the corresponding shipment numbers through the search screen in the Qognify Logistics Solution. Since the video system can use the scan data and is also aware of the operating speeds of the conveyor belts, it always "knows" when a parcel is within the viewing range of a monitoring camera and displays the corresponding preview pictures. Starting from the last image where the shipment was visible, the employee can now localise the error source quickly and easily.
Thanks to the jointly conceived solution, it is easy to trace where a single parcel was at any given point in time. So for example, wrongly sorted parcels can easily be located again, which keeps losses to an absolute minimum – a convincing argument for the parcel logistics service provider. DPD is also happy with the fact that in addition the modern IP solution saves energy and therefore costs in comparison to conventional recorder systems. Heiko Köger, manager of the Heilbronn DPD hub stresses the importance of this: "For DPD the responsible use of resources plays an important role. The fact that this aspect could be taken into account as part of the introduction of an innovative IP video system to support our business processes makes it even better!" DPD is convinced by the implemented concept, and together with M.N.O. as its partner is equipping further depots in Germany with the Qognify Logistics Solution.
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