AIRPORT CITY, Israel (Reuters) – Courier services company DHL Express has opened the Middle East’s largest robotic sorting centre in central Israel, the company said on Wednesday.
Had it not made the 250 million shekel ($80 million) investment in the facility near Ben Gurion Airport, the company said it would not have been able to keep up with the pace of orders in Israel.
A hundred conveyor belts sort 20,000 packages an hour, roughly five times more than before, matching the most advanced centres in Europe, said Yair Bitton, CEO of DHL Express Israel.
A cargo plane can now be handled in 50 minutes instead of four hours. The automated sorting system requires 70% less manpower, so employees have been trained for other roles, DHL said.
“When we planned this facility five years ago we thought this facility would be good for the next 20 years. Unfortunately, or fortunately, when finishing it we see that it’s good maybe for the next five,” Bitton said.
That has already led the company to explore other sites and solutions as well.
Israel’s economy was expected to have grown about 7% in 2021 and was on course for a record year with recent data estimating exports – a key economic driver – reached as much as $140 billion, up 18% from the year before.
($1 = 3.1101 shekels)
(Reporting by Rami Amichay; Editing by Mark Potter)