DHL launches comprehensive asset management service

DHL’s turnkey service includes a customer portal for easy label printing and returns. | Christian Muller/Shutterstock

Global logistics company DHL leverages its 1,200 locations worldwide to provide electronics resale, refurbishment and recycling services in the 140 countries in which it operates.

“Smart Circle” is DHL’s turnkey solution, developed with Cisco, which allow customers to return, receive, retrieve and reuse products using a single supplier.

Customer Services Logistics Director Scott Allison told E-Scrap News that the company’s long-term goal is a 100% recovery. Smart Circle has a customer portal, where customers can print a label, request packaging if they don’t have the original packaging, then drop off the package or have DHL collect it.

“We’re screening and testing what came back,” Allison said. “Is what came back supposed to come back? Is the serial number correct? »

Then, depending on the customer’s request, DHL will repackage it and resell it on their behalf, disassemble it into parts or send it for recycling.

Allison said DHL will handle all of this in-house, except for recycling, which will be handled by partners “due to the complexity”.

DHL has the capacity to handle large volumes, Allison said, and already works with many large tech companies. Its warehouses currently store around 35 million parts and items, so “we have the scale to be able to meet any customer demand.”

“This network has been around for 25 years and so all we’re really doing is redirecting it,” he said.

Currently, DHL operates in 140 countries and offers Smart Circle in all of them. Allison said he expects the United States, the European Union and China to send larger volumes of material through the system, but the interest of DHL in offering the service is that it operates globally.

“It kinda depends on what country they want to do it in,” Allison noted. “If they want to do it in Saudi Arabia, let’s say, we can, but we have to think about what the product is, where it needs to go. It’s not as easy to get things out of Saudi Arabia than in the US or Germany. There are different things to consider, but the scalability is there.

Fill a gap

DHL has been in the reverse logistics business for years, Allison said, and started noticing how fragmented services were. It was all very localized, he said, and required multiple companies along the chain.

“You have someone in the US who can do it, one in the UK, one in Germany, one in Singapore,” Allison said. “Nobody really offers every service everywhere a customer might want to, so we built this platform.”

The goal is to keep products out of landfills, but Allison said companies are starting to realize there are also financial incentives to reuse products.

“They can make more money on the same product by giving it a useful second life,” he said, which one customer once described as “green on green” — good for the planet and good for the results.

DHL started working on Smart Circle about 18 months ago. Allison said prototyping and testing was done in partnership with Cisco and the project went through several iterations.

Allison said DHL was both a customer and a supplier of Cisco, so she knew Cisco had a 100% recovery target. He asked Cisco to describe the product they would create if they had a magic wand.

Josh Garrison, Cisco’s senior director of services and logistics, said DHL and his company have a long-standing partnership and a history of strategic engagement and co-innovation. So when DHL asked them to imagine an “unconstrained utopia” of a product system, they readily agreed. .

“We have probably one of the four most holistic circular network solutions in the electronics industry,” Garrison said. “DHL helped us deal with some aspects of this, but when they said, ‘Hey listen, let’s come together and make some next-gen stuff,’ we said, let’s do it.”

Cisco recently in partnership with BT, a major UK provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications, to help this company recover more devices.

Garrison said DHL is a phenomenal partner because the company is willing to invest time, people and money in projects.

“They’re very invested not only in our relationship, but in designing the future, which is unique,” Garrison said. “A lot of companies like them are very, ‘Hey, look, if it’s not an immediate return to my bottom line, I don’t want to get into that.’ DHL does not take this kind of view.

Allison said he decided to target the tech sector first because he seemed ready to jump on a more comprehensive solution.

“It could work for other industries — medical devices, engineering — they have the same requirements, but aren’t as mature as the tech sector to take advantage of them,” Allison said.

However, Smart Circle can still be scaled. He added that DHL “wouldn’t have gone into it if we didn’t think it was a big market”.

Distinguish DHL

There are already many companies trying to solve the same fragmentation problem, Garrison said, but what sets this effort apart is that DHL has produced a service that “is probably the closest to the most holistic solution that that is”.

“You combine the logistics experience, the global reach of DHL with the technology investments they’ve made, and those are significant investments,” Garrison said. “Everything is digital and they get it.”

Allison said the service has so far generated strong interest and DHL has been invited to speak at several webinars. The company also monitors service requests in the market.

“There are 50 million tonnes of electronics that go to landfill every year, so although we have to walk before we can run, hopefully we can do a little bit to help with that,” he said.

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