China's courier giants tackle Nov 11 Single's Day shopping sprees with automated logistics

An employee prepares packages for delivery before Singles Day, also known as the '11.11' Global Shopping Festival, in Beijing on Nov 10, 2019.
An employee prepares packages for delivery before Singles Day, also known as the '11.11' Global Shopping Festival, in Beijing on Nov 10, 2019. PHOTO: EPA - EFE

HANGZHOU (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - China's major logistics firms are rolling up their sleeves for the delivery peak of the Double 11 shopping festival, which falls on Monday (Nov 11), with an increasing degree of automation.

The event, also known as Single's Day shopping festival, was first designed by Alibaba's e-commerce platform Tmall on Nov 11, 2009, and has become one of the largest online shopping sprees worldwide.

SF Express started hiring temporary staff 45 days ahead of the Double 11, preparing for the soaring shipping orders between Nov 11 and 20, an estimated 75 per cent increase compared with the same period of last year, according to the company.

The total length of automated sorting lines in China's express industry has exceeded 5,000km as of this year's Double 11, surveys made by Alibaba's logistics arm Cainiao Network showed.

All major courier companies have completed combined network tests on their smart equipment, which will be put into full-speed operation to ensure logistics efficiency and offer consumers an improved shopping experience, according to Cainiao Network.

Mr Zhao Jian, a senior director in charge of global logistics and supply chain management of Cainiao Network, said the use of intelligent equipment continues to surge as the logistics industry becomes more digital and smarter.

YTO Express has enabled more automated equipment in the first half of 2019, almost doubling its historical sum. To make quicker transfers, YTO installed five automated machines in its Guangzhou logistics centre in southern China, which can scan 1,800 waybills per hour.

More automatic sorting equipment has been placed in over 20 hub cities including Nanjing and Hefei by China Postal Express and Logistics, an express and logistics service arm of China Post, to ease the pressure during the delivery peak.

They are expected to enhance the handling capacity by more than 10 million items in the short term, said Mr Gao Hongsheng who oversees the company's e-commerce business unit.

 
 
 

Innovative robotic sorting solutions and automated sorting systems that incorporate data analysis, cloud computing, intelligent terminals and image processing technologies have also been used by courier firms to shorten delivery time.

Cainiao Network said the average delivery for a single package on its logistics platform in the first half of this year was almost five hours faster than that of the same period of 2018.

Industry insiders said electronic billing also helps bring the logistics industry on the fast track of automation, markedly improving efficiency.