All roads lead to innovation: RPA in freight management

As retailers and manufacturers move to restock depleted inventories, trucking and freight companies in general are reporting stronger freight demand. The upswing in demand and spot-market pricing is raising costs for businesses hustling to replenish goods after coronavirus lockdowns. In an attempt to balance the market, the technology seems to be the go-to solution for freight management.

As any automation journey, it starts with a project roadmap, in order to establish governance models and other protocols and identify “quick wins” that would be ideal process automation candidates. Processes that consist of sub-tasks that handle a high volume of transactions using business rules or structured data (such as information about inventory, routes and time management) are the best candidates for automation.

For example, DGFF (DHL Global Forwarding, Freight) started with a process automation pilot project it dubbed “Post Flight.” A UiPath Robot extracted data from the Division’s operations system and combined it with critical flight data, such as whether or not a partner’s flight was on time. The Post Flight Robot then produced a report that the operations team used to manage only the exceptions.

This increased insight was extremely valuable, but so too were the internal efficiency gains. Before this, DGFF had a team of 30 employees in place to complete the same process. With the UiPath Enterprise RPA Platform, 15 of these employees moved to higher-value, more rewarding work. The remaining employees now manage this activity based on exceptions leading to better customer service in terms of providing increased transparency in the supply chain about potential delays.

Frank Schüler, Managing Director of DGFF’s Global Service Center (GSC): “Our pilot program was such a success that we were able to achieve a complete return on investment for the “Post Flight” pilot project in just one month.”

As a next step, DGFF set out to provide process automation as a new offering within its shared service centers, as well as, a service for the entire Division. To achieve this, a Center of Excellence (CoE) was created. In smaller companies, the role of CoE is played by a team of external consultants, that helps to explore and promote opportunities based on RPA technology.  It also defines process automation standards and facilitates a community spirit by sharing lessons learned and other best practices.

After one year, DGFF has deployed more than 80 robots. From merchandise management, route optimization and scheduling to sales and exception handling, a RPA-based solution can accomplish even more: when combined with smart optical character recognition (OCR), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), it can further automate the capturing and analyses of structured and unstructured data.


  • 50%DHL Global Forwarding, Freight was able to take 15 of 30 of its employees off a particular manual-based process as a pilot —50% of total resources now able to focus on more value-adding tasks.
  • 300 These Robots are currently providing the workload of approx. 300 FTE, who are now able to focus on more value-added work initiatives.
  • 1 DHL Global Forwarding, Freight was able to achieve a complete ROI for its first pilot in just one month.
  • 80 DHL Global Forwarding, Freight currently has deployed over 80 UiPath-based Robots in less than one year.