DHL does not break down its capital investments by region for competitive purposes, but Fenwick said that this year’s total corporate investment worldwide would be 1.7 to 1.8 billion euros (about $2.2-2.4 billion) and that “a fair share was going to Latin America.”
Most of DHL Express’s business in the region still comes from multinational companies and large Latin-based enterprises (multilatinas), but the share of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is increasing and DHL is working to capture this business segment.
“With international and intra-regional trade expanding in Latin America, a lot of companies in the logistics space and their customers are growing and doing well,” said Ken Roberts, president of WorldCity, a Miami media company that tracks international trade and the impact of the global economy on local communities. “It’s never straight up, but there are continuing opportunities and it looks well for the region. DHL wants to position itself for handling additional volumes of cellphones, computers, perishables, car parts … all the things that are moving through Latin America. They have undoubtedly done their research on where the best growth opportunities are in Latin America and are targeting their growth and investments.”
DHL Express offers assistance to SMEs that want to navigate complex national and international trade regulations, as well as advice on entering international markets. Earlier this year, it also announced a new initiative with the U.S. Commerce Department that provides DHL customers in Latin America with a range of business resources, including trade and marketing information, business leads, access to new suppliers in the U.S. and access to potential buyers and distributors. U.S. embassies and consulates provide this new service to DHL customers in the region.
While DHL works with a range of sectors — automotive, energy, manufacturing, life sciences and technology — it is paying special attention to health and life sciences. DHL research indicates growing business opportunities for supply chain companies in areas such as high value, specialty drugs, innovative standard drugs and medical devices, as well as low-tech devices and over the counter medications.
Some products require special, temperature-controlled handling from production centers to final delivery, while others can be shipped normally by ocean freight and truck. DHL is fine-tuning delivery services for each category to manufacturers, laboratories, distributors and retailers.
While about 80 percent of pharmaceutical sales are made in high-income countries, DHL expects the globalization of clinical trials will offer a new opportunity to provide delivery services.
“This is an important growth sector for us and we are working closely with customers to address the changing shape of the industry,” said Roger Crook, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, the freight division of Deutsche Post DHL.
One example of the company’s focus on temperature -controlled shipments is its new station at Miami International Airport, called Thermonet. This center, which builds on existing cold-chain shipping technology, receives temperature-sensitive materials — such as vaccines, specialized medications and materials used in clinical tests — and attaches a radio frequency identity sensor to each package. The sensor stores information on the specific temperature requirements of the contents and alerts DHL if the temperature parameters are not correct. Shipment temperatures are monitored all the time, DHL says.