Logistics: researching innovative concepts

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(Image: stock.adobe.com, phaisarnwong2517)

Efficient logistics has never been as important as it is today: Globalization and digitization, for example, require new solutions for everything related to the dispatch of goods – concepts for the flow of goods and mobility as well as for a suitable infrastructure. The search for innovative ideas for the logistics industry has long since reached universities, and prizes for talented people with the best ideas are regularly awarded.

If you order online, you hardly ever think about the logistical effort it takes to send goods today. Because the conditions have changed – both quantitatively and qualitatively. Online trading is booming and the flow of goods is increasing continuously. Customers expect fast deliveries, and it is no longer enough for them to know that their order will arrive at some point, they want to be sure on what day and at what time the package will be there.

At the same time, environmental awareness is growing, which is why ecological solutions in the field of logistics in connection with inventory management are becoming increasingly important – both for consumers and for the various service providers.

Operational challenges

Such changes not only pose major operational challenges for companies, but also the need for new business models. It is not for nothing that digital processes are extremely relevant for research as the backbone of modern logistics. For “Logistics 4.0”, innovative systems are being sought for different industries. Not only network management is required here, but control and structuring of all processes required for this.

“Use the capabilities of digital building blocks”

The Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Logistics Association has in his position paper “Logistics as a science – central research questions in times of the fourth industrial revolution” made it clear that the greatest added value of logistics, according to general knowledge, lies in “consistently using the capabilities of digital modules to make operational decisions such as the assignment of orders or the creation of To shift sequences to the immediate process level. The advisory board speaks of nothing less than a “paradigm shift towards the autonomy of machines, devices and objects such as workpieces and goods.”

Necessary: ​​Motivated employees and teamwork

It is above all the new market players who have set new standards in the past, such as startups and IT providers in the area of ​​global management of supply chains, but also in the commercial vehicle industry or road-based freight transport. In the locally limited area in particular, some new companies have recently emerged that expand and supplement the existing network with new services.

In general, the individual challenges for companies are diverse: At the top is company management that has to understand how to motivate its employees to contribute ideas. The prerequisite for this is the unreserved promotion of teamwork, as well as a corporate culture of trusting cooperation, which does not put mistakes under threat of punishment, creates freedom and flat hierarchies.

Innovations are not by-products

The possibilities of trying out and establishing innovative processes also require a rethink. Not only with the question of how tasks can be approached in principle, but also with the methods according to which new approaches can be tested promptly and checked for their potential. Of course, innovations are not by-products. You need time and energy, for which the company also has to create the financial and personnel requirements.

Seven pillars form the main objectives

There are often hurdles in the way of companies changing towards such a culture. Often it is the business successes of bygone days that make critical reflection on future viability unnecessary from the outset – an extremely poor prerequisite for necessary changes and future investments.

The main goals in the logistics industry, which in Germany have to be implemented by around 500,000 medium-sized companies in addition to large corporations, rest on seven pillars. This is about

  • the right goods,
  • those at the agreed time,
  • in promised quality,
  • in the desired amount,
  • to the right customer,
  • to the specified location
  • and at an efficient price

must be delivered.

The modern logistics service provider is now faced with the task of organizing its transports effectively and cost-effectively, taking into account the requirements of environmental protection and developing modern methods of warehousing to support the effective handling of goods.

Digitization – Industry 4.0

A whole range of technologies and system solutions are available to logisticians today for the appropriate organization and alignment of the company, the basis of which is the digitization of dynamic planning processes. The Federal Association of Industry has declared the digitization of the economy under the designation “Industry 4.0” to be the decisive topic of German industry.

Environment, climate protection and sustainability

As a result of the ongoing climate change, the question of sustainability in the field of logistics is rapidly and increasingly gaining importance under the heading of “Green Logistics”. The Federal Ministry of Transport has in its “Innovation program logistics 2030” Measures for environmentally conscious action presented for the logistics industry.

The demand on the customer and consumer side for more sustainable solutions in the field of logistics and mail order is also growing. On the one hand, the volume in e-commerce continues to rise, and with it the quantity of goods sent. At the same time, there is a growing awareness and desire for environmentally friendly shipping. There are also ways of doing this, for example by reducing the CO2-To compensate for the output that occurs during a delivery. Various service providers are involved and invest part of their profits, for example, in the reforestation of forests. With every newly planted tree should a certain amount of CO2 be compensated.

The companies themselves are also called upon to take the initiative, for example through sustainable product packaging, the use of energy-saving real estate or renewable fuels. Particularly in crisis situations, such as those caused by the spread of the corona virus, the success of logistics companies and freight forwarders depends on efficiently designing processes in line with customer needs. Transparent, open communication with customers and a high degree of learning ability are important factors here.

Parcel delivery service: Climate awareness is growing

The topic Electromobility in the logistics industry is also becoming more and more important in this context. Parcel delivery companies also rely on electricity and try to make their vehicle fleet as environmentally friendly as possible. This requires innovative ideas and, above all, strategies for organizing processes towards more climate neutrality. For deliveries on the “last mile”, electric vehicles are already in extensive use. When it comes to transporting long distances, however, there are no practical solutions in the field of electrically powered vehicles.

In addition, there are suitable digitization strategies such as Big data Necessary in the context of Industry 4.0 in order to minimize the error rate. This not only affects the organization, picking, administration and warehousing, but also the management of the vehicle fleet.

Many companies do not work efficiently here. This, in turn, can have an impact on costs. A data-based distribution of the goods can be a good solution in this case. Further innovative solutions are also in demand when organizing supply chains. The main measures that come into question here are individual software solutions and the structuring of the warehouse using barcodes, which among other things help to drive logistical processes.

Transparency required

Last but not least, the issue of transparency plays an essential role in efficiently interlinking all the processes involved. Ideas for this come from the area of ​​localization technologies and sensors (for monitoring supply chains). “Intelligent packaging” provides various information both during the logistical processes and later to the consumer. This includes details on shelf life, adherence to the cold chain, complete documentation of the individual delivery stations and further information on ingredients.

Intralogistics also needs new ways for more efficiency and speed in the warehouse. Automation plays a major role here, such as the use of robots, drones or so-called transport control systems. Unlike the use of forklifts and other floor vehicles, these systems are less prone to errors and ensure greater efficiency.

01/08/2021

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