Logistics giant DHL is expanding its global innovation footprint to the Americas in a move it says will spearhead development of future logistics and supply chain solutions in the region.

Joining the company's Germany and Singapore innovation centres, the new facility in Illinois will offer insights into the future of logistics, as well as exhibiting the technologies and innovations DHL is already implementing across the Americas. It is expected to serve as a regional platform for collaborative innovation.

More specifically, set to open in the summer of 2019, the facility will house DHL's logistic innovations and robotics, and will offer customers and partners a peek into the future of logistics, showcasing visions of what the world and its transport infrastructure might look like in 2050, as well as the latest technology trends in robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, the Internet of Things, and virtual reality – all of which are being tested or implemented by the group.

DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics specialist within Deutsche Post DHL Group, says it has seen average productivity increases of 15% in trials of augmented reality technology in warehouses, with smart glasses that provide visual displays of order picking instructions and item locations. It has also deployed drones with surveillance cameras to ramp up security at warehousing sites in Brazil and Mexico.

And in a recent global survey by DHL of about 350 supply chain and operations professionals, robotics ranked the most important physical technology at 63%. DHL Supply Chain uses collaborative robots designed to help with repetitive and precise tasks, such as picking and packing, in a number of its North American warehouses.

Air and ocean transport division DHL Global Forwarding, and DHL Express, also use virtual reality and artificial intelligence in countries like the US and Chile for employee training programmes and to optimise customer service.

"With our third Innovation centre worldwide, we will be able to create a platform for research and collaborative innovation between DHL customers, start-ups, academia, industry partners, and innovation experts in the Americas region," says Matthias Heutger, SVP, global head of innovation & commercial development at DHL. "This visionary innovation centre will further promote and nurture our worldwide leading position as the logistics innovation frontrunner in one of our key markets."

Last week DHL Supply Chain launched a new end-to-end supply chain visibility platform – MySupplyChain – which integrates data from its applications, providing customers with complete supply chain visibility, accessible online anytime, anywhere, through a single login.