Ahead of this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival which saw Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba rake in a record $30.8 billion in sales, its logistics company, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network (Cainiao), has announced a technology upgrade to expand capacity for cross-border logistics.
Caniao said in a news release that while it is technology-equipped to handle deliveries beyond last year’s record of 812 million orders for the single-day shopping festival, it has taken steps to boost capacity.
The first of these steps is opening a new robotic warehouse in China, expanding its Internet of Things (IoT) systems, and building out its platform's last-mile reach.
Located in Caniao’s IoT Future Park in the city of Wuxi in Jiangsu Province, the smart warehouse has 700 automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and is considered the largest robotic smart warehouse in China.
Caniao said the IoT technology in the warehouse can automatically direct AGVs to drive, load and unload.
“The system will plan the best routing for the AGVs to avoid a collision and intelligently distribute parcels. Fifty percent more orders can be fulfilled by the entire warehouse than that of a traditional one within the same time period,” it said.
It has also built the "Sky Eye Program," a cloud-based video-monitoring system that will be used by logistics partners Deppon, ZTO Express, YTO Express, STO Express, Best Express, and Yunda Express.
“Sky Eye taps the cameras in logistics stations across the country and, using a combination of Computer Vision Technology and Cainiao's algorithm, upgrades them into smart IoT devices to help delivery firms identify idle resources and abnormalities in the logistics process, send status updates to human operators in real-time and smooth out kinks in the system,” Caniao said.
Cainiao disclosed that it also helped with big data analysis for 15 major national express courier companies in preparation for 11.11.
“The data is used to effectively deploy manpower and transportation for 200,000 delivery stations, to maximize utilization and avoid bottlenecks, as well as managing inventories held locally,” it explained.
Cainiao Vice President Ben Wang said they need to keep upgrading systems in anticipation of growth and to keep up with customer expectations.
Five years ago, he said the parcel orders for Alibaba surpassed 100 million for the first time. And it took nine days to deliver that number of parcels. Last year, it took less than three days (2.8 days) to deliver the same number of parcels.
“Consumers increasingly want faster, better delivery, so that's what we're doing. This year, we're striving to achieve a new high, leveraging the beauty of scale and technology," Wang said.
Caniao eventually processed more 1.04 billion delivery orders from more than 180,000 participating brands in this year’s shopping festival and cut down the delivery time to 2.6 days for the first 100 million orders.
Moreover, it said, “five million import parcels were processed through customs clearance within less than five hours, compared to around eight hours and 57 hours to process the same amount in 2017 and 2016, respectively.”