Creating a Culture of Continuous Innovation

Executive councils are increasingly recognizing that digitalization is a journey, not a destination. As technology evolves, new solutions are always emerging that increase the efficiency and productivity of your business. The timely use of these technologies – early enough to create a competitive advantage, but not too early to introduce risk – requires continuous innovation. At DHL Supply Chain, we have created a culture of continuous innovation that positions us as a leader in the digitalization of supply chains.

Here are four keys to success that we have applied when we have accelerated digitalisation across the supply chain for our customers.

1. Create a dedicated team

Creating a dedicated innovation team led by executives can be an important first step in advancing digitalization. This does not mean creating a bunker for innovation. In fact, it produces the opposite effect. The Innovation Team serves as a hub that brings together professionals from across the organization to ensure that all stakeholders are represented in the technology selection and implementation processes.

In the DHL supply chain, our innovation team works with finance, operations, IT, security and solution development to ensure that the new technologies we implement deliver the value we expect before they are deployed in our network. Having a dedicated team also focuses responsibility for achieving digitalization goals and ensures that well-defined processes are available for technology implementation, including developing new processes around automation rather than trying to automate manual processes.

2. Know your needs

With more than 500 sites in our network, DHL Supply Chain has a diverse set of options for using new technologies. To optimize our evaluation process, we have developed a technology selection tool that captures all relevant parameters for each site in a database of tables, allowing us to quickly identify possible uses for the new technology. When we identify a large number of uses for new technology, that use becomes a priority and accelerates. So it was with our recent stand-alone loader installation. As forklifts are used at virtually all of our facilities, we are actively moving forward to our first North American deployment of stand-alone forklifts in stock.

3. Use your experience

As we move to actively engage with technology startups, we often find that they lack the in-depth understanding of supply chain processes needed to maximize the value of their innovations in our applications. By bringing our expertise to the supply chain in their development process, we can help influence their development and provide insight into how to increase the value of a solution before it hits the market. Not every organization is able to influence the technology development process for third-party vendors, but every organization should evaluate new technologies based on the specific requirements of its business, rather than assume that technology vendors understand those requirements.

4. Trust your processes

Failure to deploy technology can be costly and disrupt work. This may force some organizations to be too cautious in advancing digitalization. In our experience, risks and opportunities can be properly balanced by establishing well-defined technology selection and installation processes, including carefully designed and monitored first deployment programs. For our first stand-alone forklift deployment, we deliberately chose the greatest value and most sophisticated use of this technology – with high coverage, double depth of delivery and assembly – to ensure a true test of the viability and maturity of the technology. This first deployment has been successful, and we can now confidently scale this solution to increase productivity and speed for customers, where applicable, throughout our network.

Digitality is changing processes throughout the supply chain and creating opportunities to reduce costs, improve service and adapt resources to an increasingly complex labor market. In DHL’s supply chain, our culture of continuous innovation allows us to collaborate with leading technology vendors to evaluate and integrate solutions that are flexible, scalable, and relevant to your business needs.

To learn more about how DHL Supply Chain can work with you, visit


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