DHL launches $140m facility in Changi

DHL Express has launched a S$140 million facility at Changi Airport which will boost its efficiency and put it in a better position to capitalise on future growth in regional air cargo.

Located within Changi Airfreight Centre (CAC), its 23,600 sq m South Asia Hub is kitted out with an automated express parcel-sorting and -processing system, which will triple its cargo-handling capacity and process shipments six times faster.

This is DHL's biggest investment in Singapore to date and is about a third larger than the company's previous facility.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang highlighted ASEAN's growth opportunities.

He noted that, based on the economic outlook of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ASEAN is projected to grow at 5.2 per cent from this year until 2020, compared to 3.1 per cent globally.

"Furthermore, the rise of e-commerce in the region will drive the need for more on-demand and time-sensitive deliveries, for which air-express services can best respond," he said.

With the new hub, DHL expects to be able to make swifter deliveries to customers, as some export shipments can be sent directly to the hub instead of to its service centre, cutting down on travel and shipment handling time.

New airside fences and gates built by airport operator Changi Airport Group (CAG) will also enable goods to be shipped as quickly as possible.

Frank-Uwe Ungerer, senior vice-president of DHL Express Singapore, said: "The hub allows us to meet customer needs more effectively in this age of an on-demand economy.

"With our fully automated system, the facility processes up to 24,000 shipments and documents per hour and can handle over 628 tonnes of cargo during the peak processing window."

The materials handling system has brought labour productivity gains 30 per cent higher than that of the previous facility.

The hub is expected to have a staff count of 250.

DHL's other key Asia-Pacific hubs are in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok.

Meanwhile, CAG's chief executive Lee Seow Hiang said the airport operator remains optimistic about the outlook for Singapore's airfreight industry.

In the first eight months of this year, air cargo volumes grew 5.2 per cent year on year to 1.27 million tonnes, despite headwinds in the economy.

By the end of the next decade, Changi Airport's air cargo handling capacity is set to nearly double, when the Changi East Development is completed, providing the space required for new and innovative facilities, he added.

This article was first published on Oct 19, 2016.
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