DHL Express opens jumbo $140m hub

The DHL South Asia Hub, spanning 23,600 sq m, is fitted with the industry's first fully automated express parcel sorting and processing system in South Asia. This allows it to process up to 24,000 shipments and documents an hour - six times the rate
The DHL South Asia Hub, spanning 23,600 sq m, is fitted with the industry's first fully automated express parcel sorting and processing system in South Asia. This allows it to process up to 24,000 shipments and documents an hour - six times the rate of manual operations.PHOTO: DHL EXPRESS

Round-the-clock automated facility is company's largest investment here

Express services giant DHL Express yesterday opened a $140 million round-the-clock automated facility in Changi Airfreight Centre - its largest investment in Singapore.

The DHL South Asia Hub, spanning 23,600 sq m, is fitted with the industry's first fully automated express parcel sorting and processing system in South Asia, said the company in a statement.

This will allow it to process up to 24,000 shipments and documents an hour - six times the rate of manual operations. It will also have a cargo-handling capacity of more than 628 tonnes during the peak processing window - treble the manual rate.

Some export shipments will now be sent direct to the hub, bypassing its service centre and cutting transport and shipment handling time.

"The hub allows us to meet customer needs more effectively in this age of an on-demand economy," said Mr Frank-Uwe Ungerer, senior vice-president and managing director of DHL Express Singapore, referring to fast-evolving trade trends such as e-commerce.

ROOM FOR GROWTH

Despite the uneven outlook seen across the global economic environment, the Asia-Pacific region, with its diversity of markets and economies, remains very resilient and a key growth driver for our business.

MR KEN LEE, chief executive of DHL Express Asia-Pacific, on the company's big investment in the hub facility

"The increased efficiency allows us to look into streamlining our service centre operations in Singapore from end to end, giving our customers even faster deliveries and better business efficiency."

Features of the automated system include multi-dimensional tunnel scanners that accelerate barcode reading and automated X-ray systems that scan packages up to three times faster than previous systems. All this will also boost productivity.

DHL said 250 staff will be based at the facility this year. Including those staff, DHL employs about 880 staff here out of about 24,000 in the Asia-Pacific.

Mr Ken Lee, chief executive of DHL Express Asia-Pacific, added: "Despite the uneven outlook seen across the global economic environment, the Asia-Pacific region, with its diversity of markets and economies, remains very resilient and a key growth driver for our business."

He expects the new hub facility to enhance its multi-hub strategy in the region, allowing the group to add more network flights in and out of Singapore.

Trade and Industry (Trade) Minister Lim Hng Kiang, who also spoke at the event, said DHL's new hub facility is a good example of how technology can enable logistics firms to achieve significant productivity gains.

He noted that the facility's advanced material-handling system, for instance, increases maximum cargo-handling capacity by more than five times, and enables labour productivity gains of over 30 per cent, compared with its previous facility.

This is in line with the Government's efforts to raise productivity in the logistics industry as it promotes technology adoption among companies to "do more with less resources", said Mr Lim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2016, with the headline 'DHL Express opens jumbo $140m hub'. Print Edition | Subscribe