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DHL eyes picking robot, customer solutions with €20,000 innovation challenges


PHOTO: Transport Intelligence

DHL’s second Innovation Challenges has commenced with a call on students, start-ups and inventors worldwide to submit their ideas for two logistics-related challenges.

Participants are invited to either develop a prototype of a mobile piece picking robot or develop a solution to a logistics problem using a sharing economy business model, platform or concept. DHL has open a portal for participants to submit a written document and video explaining their idea until September through www.dhlinnovationchallenge.comExternal Link / New Window.

All entries will be reviewed by senior DHL executives in a pre-selection process. Three finalists of each challenge will be chosen, whose concepts meet the criteria of functionality, aesthetics, potential to solve the given problem and commercial feasibility.


The nominees will present their solutions in front of 180 senior supply chain professionals and trend experts at the DHL Innovation Day in Germany on November 16.

The winners will be selected in a live-voting process while the two top scorers receive the prize money and will have their concepts displayed at the DHL Innovation Centers in Germany and Singapore. They will also have the opportunity to develop proof-of-concepts with DHL.

This year’s robotics challenge asks start-ups and budding engineers to tinker away at creating a prototype of a mobile piece picking robot which can navigate through traditional warehouse rack systems and autonomously pick items into a cart.

Further requirements are the ability to move in walking speed and autonomously steer back the fully loaded carts to a packing area. The prototypes will be tested live at the DHL Innovation Day.

“We estimate that the implementation of robotics will be the norm in the industry within less than five years. Their application will facilitate the order picking process and relieve warehouse staff from carrying heavy weight and manually pushing trolleys through the rack systems.

At DHL, we encourage concepts that support employees in daily operations and unburden them from physical strain,” said Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President Strategy, Marketing &

Sharing Economy Challenge: Rethinking access and ownership to create logistics solutions for the world of tomorrow

The second pillar of this year’s Innovation Challenges focuses on the future trend of sharing economy logistics.

The task involves the development of original ideas or practical solutions that may leverage a sharing economy business model and challenge conventional concepts of asset ownership and access. The submitted product or service solution should aim to create value for all stakeholders – businesses as well as the society – due to new and innovative logistics-based business models.

“Sharing economy models are best known for hospitality and mobility. As digital technology continues to drive down transaction costs and increase transparency, though, we believe that there is virtually no limit to what these models can be applied to. We aim to create a shared value, fully utilizing resources to turn logistics assets into sustainable, fair and potentially profitable services for consumers and businesses,” said Markus Kückelhaus, Vice President Innovation & Trend Research, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation.

The DHL Innovation Day will be held for the eighth time on November 16, fostering visionary thought leadership and getting inventors involved in the future of logistics.


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