swissnex China takes a Deep Dive into the Future of Logistics with S&TDC

On January 14, swissnex China joined its peers from the Science & Technology Diplomatic Circle for its first event in 2019, which was a visit to Alibaba Group's Cainiao Future Park in Wuxi. The logistics arm of the leading Chinese e-commerce platform is highly innovative and ambitious.

Group photo with the members of the S&TDC and the hosts of the visit from Alibaba Group.

Group photo with the members of the S&TDC and the hosts of the visit from Alibaba Group.

It was an insightful visit of the largest automated warehouse in China with over 700 robots (= automated guided vehicles or AGVs). Most of the robots seen in action are Quicktron robots able to lift racks up to 500kg and automatically pick up a parcel and deliver it to another part of the warehouse where it is then picked up by a delivery firm. One purpose of the new flagship warehouse is field testing various logistics technologies as well as establishing new standards. The new process has brought significant time savings and improved accuracy reaching 98%. Alibaba invested billions to build a national Internet-based intelligent logistics backbone in China and works nowadays with over 3000 partners worldwide. Its publicly stated goal for the next 5-10 years is to deliver to anyone in China within 24 hours and internationally in 72 hours. In 2018, it took 2.6 days to deliver the 1042 million parcels ordered during 11.11, the Singles Day.

Cainiao is the largest automated warehouse in China with over 700 AGVs | Photo: Quicktron ( PlaceTech )

Cainiao is the largest automated warehouse in China with over 700 AGVs | Photo: Quicktron (PlaceTech)

On the statistics side, Cainiao covers internationally 224 countries and regions and domestically more than 2700 counties and villages, is connected with over 3 million express courier personnel, and processes 16 trillion pieces of logistics data per day. The smart logistic network has a daily average package volume of 69 million connected to the whole society. Cainiao is developing highly innovative solutions and technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), unmanned vehicles, express towers, cabinets which can be unlocked using facial recognition, and many more. Some of those technologies are already in use as pilot projects in some university towns.

Delivery speed growth from 2009-2018 | Graphic: Cainiao Network ( Alizina )

Delivery speed growth from 2009-2018 | Graphic: Cainiao Network (Alizina)