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Courier giants brace for Double 11 with automated logistics

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-11-10 08:12
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Package sorting robots run at a sorting center of China Post in Hefei, East China's Anhui province. [File photo/VCG]

HANGZHOU, Nov 9 — China's major logistics firms are rolling up their sleeves for the delivery peak of the Double 11 shopping festival, which falls on Monday, 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-percent increase compared with the same period of last year, according to Li Chahong with the company.

The total length of automated sorting lines in China's express industry has exceeded 5,000 km 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.

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 center 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 & Logistics Co., Ltd., 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 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.

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