The Korea Herald


[From the Scene] CJ Logistics aims to operate global hub for cross-border e-commerce

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Nov. 12, 2023 - 14:46

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Robots move above rows of bins to transfer them to the packaging station at CJ Logistics' Global Distribution Center in Incheon on Thursday. (CJ Logistics) Robots move above rows of bins to transfer them to the packaging station at CJ Logistics' Global Distribution Center in Incheon on Thursday. (CJ Logistics)

INCHEON -- At CJ Logistics' Global Distribution Center, a total of 140 red, box-shaped robots with four wheels zoom across rows of stacked-up bins. The robot then drops down wires and hoists up a bin filled with goods.

Carrying the bin, the robot scurries along the metal railings, transporting the bin to the packaging station, where an employee selects a set number of items from the bin to pack into a box for delivery. The robot then bustles back again and heads for another bin, repeating the procedure.

The process is a part of the logistics firm’s automated logistics system, dubbed “Auto-Store,” which aims to maximize efficiency by having the machines bring the goods to the employees, instead of having human workers search for the items themselves.

"Traditionally, distribution centers stored items on fixed steel shelves. However, by piling the bins of items on top of each other, we learned we could increase storage efficiency by four times," said Lee Kyung-jin, CJ Logistics’ head of cross-border e-commerce business, during a media tour held at the distribution center Thursday.

"Auto-Store is currently responsible for transporting some 10,000 boxes daily, and is in its final testing phase. We estimate that the system will be launched for full operation in December and that it will largely buoy our productivity," he said.

In a separate part of the facility, boxes marked with barcodes are constantly being scanned as they are transported on conveyor belts.

Based on data stored in the barcodes, the boxes are automatically moved across the black belts until they come to a stop in front of an employee, who fills the boxes up with goods.

The process is a part of another one of CJ Logistics' automated logistics system, named the “Quick Picking System.”

"Instead of the person-to-goods method, which obligates workers to find the goods, we are implementing a method which allows items to find the workers on their own," said Lee.

"Such a system is maximizing productivity and work convenience. By simultaneously operating the QPS and Auto-Store, we expect to improve the overall operational efficiency by 1.5 times," he said.

CJ Logistics' invention of the automated logistics processes came as the firm aimed to ramp up its capabilities for making cross-border deliveries, the firm said.

"CJ Logistics designated its new future core growth engine as the cross border e-commerce business. The CBE business is growing at a fast rate globally, especially in the Asian region," said Min Kwang-sung, the company’s head of CBE business development.

According to England-based logistics market research firm Transport Intelligence, the global CBE logistics market is estimated to reach $134 billion by 2026, recording an 83.5 percent increase from the market value logged in 2021.

"As the market for cross-border logistics is expected to increase, the competition is fierce to establish GDCs -- which function as a hub for international deliveries," Min said.

Currently, CJ Logistics' GDC in Incheon operates as a hub that stores and ships products from a US-based health products shopping mall, iHerb, to neighboring markets, including Japan, Singapore, Australia and Kazakhstan.

"In the past, global e-commerce companies made large-scale investments and directly (delivered goods) to overseas markets. However, they now prefer to operate efficient GDCs in countries that have the potential to serve as transportation hubs," said Min.

"Based on CJ Logistics' overwhelming GDC operation capabilities, the firm will further strengthen its trans-border courier service that overcomes temporal and spatial constraints," Lee said.