Germany’s Bertelsmann Group risk manager, Ralf Mareczek, uncovers how digitalisation has optimised its logistics division

The group’s logistics business, Arvato, provides warehousing, picking and packing and distribution services to industries ranging from fashion to high tech to healthcare.

Arvato employs 50,000 personnel worldwide, operates mostly in Europe and the US and covers business-to-business and business-to-consumer deliveries.

Speaking before the start of the workshop, Ralf Mareczek, vice president, corporate insurance, Bertelsmann, said: “One part of my workshop will be to introduce the business and the new developments of digitalisation in warehouses. They are doing pick and pack with Google glasses. You have people in the warehouses picking goods. In former times they have to punch in the codes manually, and now they are scanning the bar codes. And the system knows that you’re picking up the right stuff.”

The other aspect of digitalisation in logistics to be covered in the talk is tracking packages using global positioning systems (GPS).

“There are different ways that GPS tracking works. You can put it on the pallets or in the hub where different pallets are collected from multiple suppliers to go onto a truck. The truck runs to a bigger distribution point and onward across the distribution network. You can track the pallet, knowing if it’s on a train or even an aeroplane,” Mareczek said.

Mareczek further planned to outline how the temperature of goods can be monitored during distribution and how this information can be used to reduce losses.

“We have cool warehouses for some healthcare products. GPS can tell you the temperature of the goods. It’s very interesting. We are still at the beginning of these systems and we will see how will be the reaction of the underwriter. You will be able to reduce losses and to protect the goods more and that should impact on the premium calculation of an insurer,” he said.