SF: Drive Development with Data and Technology

PublishDate:13 Jul 2019  Click:9122


Founded in Shunde of Guangdong in 1993, the original purpose of SF Express is to realize customer success, promote economic prosperity and develop the domestic express industry. At present, SF has ranked first in the domestic express industry in terms of operating revenue, far surpassing YT Express, ZTO Express, STO Express, Best Express and Yunda. It also ranks fifth in the global express industry in terms of operating revenue. According to the Chart of Top 100 Chinese Brands with the Highest Value in 2018released on May 9thof 2018, SF ranks 87th. As shown by the testing results about express service punctuality in 2018 released by China State Post Bureau on February 2ndof 2019, SF ranks first for all items. Despite the achievements, the giant in the express industry still wants to make a bigger cake. After years of development, the company has basically acquired the ability to provide integrated comprehensive logistics solutions for the customers. Besides providing logistics services at the delivery end, the company has also extended to the front link of the value chain, including production, supply, sale and distribution. Beginning with the customer needs and led by the data, the company utilizes big data analysis and cloud computing technologies to provide a variety of solutions for the customers, such as warehouse management, sales forecast, big data analysis and financial analysis. It is expected that SF will develop into a top comprehensive express and logistics service provider in China in the near future.

On the early morning of July 13thwith a heavy rain, about 50 teachers and students from GMSCM17&18 could still not restrain our curiosity about SF which is a famous private enterprise beginning their success in the express industry. We came from many places to arrive at No.73, Shunfeng Road, Tangqi Town of Yuhang District, which neighbors Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in the north. In this place, SF and Netease are cooperating to build SF&Kaola Bulk Trade Automated Warehouse.

Modern warehousing must be based on the research and development of hardware equipment and the application of artificial intelligence. With the core of business planning and design and the guarantee of digital warehousing operation, modern warehousing should also rely on professional operation and management standard, advanced system management ability and well-developed warehousing and distribution integrated network so as to provide the professional and high-quality services for the customers.

Covering an area of about 50 thousand square meters, the warehouse owns 3 storerooms with a storage capacity of 7 million to 8 million pieces of goods. The storage scale has totaled 200 thousand boxes and 35 thousand SKU. Mr. Liu who is the senior manager of warehousing business department in East China told us that this warehouse is more intelligent compared with those ordinary warehouses before. The areas for all processes, including sowing, picking, shelving and rechecking, can be connected with each other through the automated line. In the past, the movement of goods basically relied on the manual moving. And now, a variety of automated equipment has been used to improve the working efficiency. For example, after a forklift moves the goods to the given location, the machine will automatically put it in a high place. With the goods shelves placed more densely, there is a greater storage capacity.

(After being packaged, the order will be moved to the next place through the automatic line)

Netease Kaola is mainly engaged in cross-border E-commerce. Besides direct mail and bonded stock, it also adopts another common trading mode which has many limitations.

(The impressive automatic sorting system)

As pointed out by Manager Liu, two cooperative warehouses of SF in Xiaoshan were also faced with such problems in the past. There are various problems, including small site, limited equipment and low efficiency. Hence, the new warehouse is able to satisfy the needs of Netease Kaola in the following years and also overcome their bottlenecks on logistics.  

In fact, SF and Netease Kaola began the warehousing cooperation from 2015. Different from the previous mode of warehouse lease, this warehouse is designed for Netease Kaola specially. In other words, all goods stored in this warehouse are various products to be sold on the platform of Netease Kaola. At present, the warehouse has a daily in-stock quantity of about 900SKU, 1875 boxes and 75 thousand pieces. It also has a daily out-stock quantity of about 18 thousand orders. The planned average daily out-stock quantity will reach 30 thousand orders or 12 thousand SKU. During peak period, the number of out-stock orders will reach 80 thousand orders every day. Maybe the order placed by the reader of this article will come from this warehouse.

In order to handle the warehousing and shipment of such a wide variety of goods, SF has adopted the self-developed WMS (warehouse management system) and WCS (warehouse control system). With the aid of the automatic sorting system used in the final out-stock process, the parcel for each order will be weighed to avoid any abnormality. The scanning is also adopted to distinguish the express company and parcel location, which left a deep impression on us.

How does SF manage the last mile? Although SF has a higher express charge than other express companies, it still wins the favor of numerous consumers with the advantages of fast delivery, good service and excellent reliability. What are the existing mode, confusion as well as the future plan and development of the company? With those questions in mind, we came to an express service station located at Tianmushan Road at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. SF has more than 10 thousand service stations with a total staff of 260 thousand nationwide.

In the past, the staff had to send and deliver 5 batches of goods every day and finished sorting each batch within 30 minutes. Manager Bao from the sales department of SF Hangzhou also told us about the business and planning of the company.

SF can provide a variety of logistics services such as timely express, economical express, within-city delivery, warehousing service and international express, fast transportation services such as heavy-cargo express with the less-than-truck-load feature as well as cold chain transportation services including fresh food and medicine. Moreover, SF can provide value-added services such as payment collection agent and parcel insurance.

l  Why can SF Express solve the last mile in such a rapid, stable and accurate manner?

SF has built an express network covering the world. With the constant emphasis on and great input into the intelligent information network, the company has finally formed a comprehensive logistics service network integrating air network, land network and information network. Due to the special and rare features of the network, it has strengthened the leading position of SF in the industry. SF has adopted the direct operation mode, which means that the head office is responsible for the unified operation and management of the branches.

Air network

In 2009, SF Airlines became the first private cargo airline in China. It has already developed into a cargo airline with the largest number of all-cargo aircrafts in China. It has owned a complementary air network consisting of all-cargo aircrafts, bulk air transportation and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). As of now, the company has maintained a leading position in terms of UAV number (about 70), flight number and transport capacity.

Land network

After years of developments, SF has taken advantage of its resources of service terminal, distribution network, transporting team, delivery team and customer service team to build an express network covering the whole country and also expanding to the major countries in the world. Besides the densely-distributed branch lines and the vehicle with various carrying capacities, the company has also cooperated with the high-speed railway so as to enrich the land transportation network. The warehousing network of the company has covered the whole country and thus can provide a wide variety of warehousing integration services for many industries, such as E-commerce, cold chain food transportation and cold chain medicine transportation.

Information network

By applying the technologies, such as big data, block chain, artificial intelligence, machine learning and intelligent equipment, SF has independently researched and developed a complete intelligent network platform consisting of SF core operation system, SF map platform, big data platform, information security platform and intelligent operation management platform. It can lay a solid foundation for intelligent transformation, support the business decision-making and facilitate the upgrade of intelligent logistics.

l  Modern logistics needs technological power.

SF has always placed great emphasis on and also made great input into various intelligent logistics facilities in the fields of big data, block chain, AI decision-making, intelligent logistics map, automatic sorting system, intelligent hardware, logistics UAV, digital warehousing, intelligent packaging and information securities.

As of the end of 2018, SF has obtained or applied for 1645 patents and 649 software copyrights. It has ranked first in the domestic express industry in terms of patent application quantity. The patents cover core logistics technologies with a breakthrough, such as UAV, intelligent sorting, big data application, intelligent logistics network building, self-driving vehicle and fresh-keeping packaging. The application and breakthrough of the technologies have strengthened the operation advantage in the logistics process.  

As a successful enterprise with excellent DNA, SF has become a comprehensive solution provider reshaping the supply chain and providing products for various scenarios. It can provide different industries with the services at the levels of supply chain execution management, strategic planning and strategic optimization, which requires the support of technological power without doubt. It not only applies to SF but also remains the key to the success of modern enterprises.