360 Degree Logistics:

Virtual tour of the Berlin-Brandenburg logistics centre

In a project that will run until 2020, Hermes Germany is constructing new logistics facilities nationwide as part of a large-scale infrastructure programme. With this investment of 300 million euros, the company is laying the foundation for a future full of parcels. The most recent addition was the Hamburg logistics centre, a new facility for the northern German metropolitan region, which opened its doors at the end of February. The Berlin-Brandenburg logistics centre (or LC for short) is located in the north-east of Germany. Opened in December 2017, the LC in Ketzin in the Havelland district of Brandenburg operated at full capacity for the first time during the pre-Christmas period of 2018 and was a key pillar for a successful peak season.

But what does a state-of-the-art distribution centre look like from the inside, and through which stations do parcels and small packages pass before they are dispatched, properly sorted, to their recipients throughout Germany? A virtual look into a state-of-the-art transshipment hub for parcels:

The journey of a parcel through the logistics centre – The infeed station

Ordered online in just a few clicks, parcels and small packages are transported long-distance by truck from the warehouses of online retailers to the Berlin-Brandenburg logistics centre. Here, employees of the LC unload the parcels by hand, sending them off on a journey through the distribution centre.

This area of the logistics centre can be experienced with VR glasses.

Precision meets speed – The upper level

Precision meets speed in the sorting of shipments on the upper floor of the logistics centre, as parcels and small packages are conveyed to the cross belt sorter via acceleration belts. They traverse the LC on this sorter, during which time they are scanned, weighed and their volume measured – all through fully automated processes. If there is an error scanning a parcel, for example because the bar code is too dirty, the parcel is sent to the multi-use station, where employees process it manually (experience this with VR glasses).

Preparation for transportation

Shipments for destinations throughout the whole of Germany are sorted in the Berlin-Brandenburg logistics centre. LC employees load parcels and small packages by hand into containers called “swap bodies” at the so-called outer end stations (experience this with VR glasses). Trucks then take the sorted shipments to their destinations: depots and delivery points throughout all of Germany. From there they depart for last-mile delivery.

If the recipient or delivery location is in the immediate vicinity of the logistics centre, the parcels are transported to another terminal of the LC and loaded into smaller transport vehicles. These go directly from the logistics centre to the courier – e.g. to ParcelShops in the area.

Shift operation for optimal cut-off times

There are about 250 employees working with state-of-the-art technology at the Berlin-Brandenburg logistics centre to ensure that everything runs smoothly. They are the connecting element among the automated technology. At the heart of the LC operation is the shift supervisor’s office, where Matthias Friedrich and his colleagues coordinate the early, middle and late shifts and act as contact persons.