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How DHL Supply Chain Preps for ‘Most Unpredictable Peak Season’

DHL Supply Chain said it’s preparing for an anticipated surge in demand in the fourth quarter by hiring additional workers and leveraging its investments in technology and infrastructure to support customers.

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

Scott Sureddin, CEO of DHL Supply Chain North America, said “peak season” for contract logistics providers typically takes place in the late summer months and is driven mainly by a buildup of retail inventory in advance of fourth-quarter selling that has increasingly moved to online channels in recent years.

“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,” Sureddin said. “DHL Supply Chain’s investments are aimed at providing them 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.”

DHL Supply Chain has announced a number of investments in technology and infrastructure in 2020, namely targeted 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 to boost productivity and throughput. In 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.

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The company also established a dedicated e-commerce sector this year to strengthen its operational and commercial focus on the fast-growing segment and to support customers 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, the company said. DHL Supply Chain has been forced to make several adjustments within its facilities to allow for the proper social distancing to keep the increased number of associates safe.

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.