Success Story

Process innovation with IoT reduces costs

Zühlke developed an innovative concept for DHL to fundamentally restructure the restocking of vending machines, and minimize logistics costs through the use of IoT.


DHL fills and services vending machines for a client throughout Switzerland. The processes involved were already proven, lean and straightforward. But to
remain competitive, further optimizations were unavoidable. Processes and structures required a complete redesign with the help of IoT technology. The central goal of the project was to reduce the machine-filling costs. Since it meant a long-term commitment with major investments, the company management demanded a sound concept as a basis for their decision. This included an innovative process that would enable cost reductions, proof of technical feasibility, a plausible business case with a clarification of the cost and benefit drivers, and a convincing roadmap for the implementation.


To begin with, the baseline for the reduction in costs was determined. For this purpose, Zühlke analyzed existing contractual obligations, cost structures, partnerships and the business environment.
Assuming the use of far-reaching IoT technologies, areas with the potential for optimization were identified. Zühlke designed various target processes and evaluated them in terms of implementation and cost-effectiveness. At the same time, the team checked the technical viability in a technology stream and determined the necessary IT investments. With the new target process, the machines were to order replacement goods autonomously. This enabled filling and maintenance to be carried out on a needs basis, and the routes to be optimized correspondingly. The employees in the day-to-day business were to be briefed via handhelds, updated by a central platform.

Customer Benefit

  • With the bundled know-how from the areas of cost-effectiveness, technical feasibility and risk analysis, DHL‘s management received a sound basis for an informed investment decision.

  • In implementing the project, DHL could leverage substantial efficiency potential and also provide dynamic innovations in the field of logistics. DHL‘s client gained a better insight into customer behavior, enabling them to adjust their product range in a targeted way.