Intralogistics 4.0 is the final step in expanding the technological possibilities of internal logistics. The goal is not only to digitize processes, but to create intelligent, automatically communicating systems that contribute to the optimization of warehousing, planning and transport.
Examples of this can be self-learning software solutions, but also intelligent containers that recognize themselves that a certain content is available or that a certain amount of existing goods has not been reached. In this case, the machines can communicate directly with each other. Reaching a defined threshold value can be automatically reported to other devices, for example. The basis for this is formed by complex IT systems that must first be implemented in many companies. This is associated with considerable costs and also requires that the company has the appropriate know-how.
Experts hope that the additional networking of the machines will result in additional savings potential, fewer sources of error and, above all, rapid, further optimization of the processes. Human errors are also reduced, although digitization and automation are of course not completely problem-free. In particular, the high costs of converting production systems to modern machines that can communicate with one another cannot be realized for all companies.
Advantages and disadvantages of intralogistics
Where there is a lot of light, there is also shadow and so intralogistics also offers numerous advantages and, conversely, some hurdles.
Advantages of intralogistics
The advantages are obvious – once the processes have been optimized, the idle times can be significantly reduced . This leads to cost reductions and fewer personnel requirements in the areas of production and logistics. The cost savings that can be achieved here can subsequently be passed on to customers, which brings cost advantages with it. Particularly in times of global competition, there are important savings opportunities for manufacturing companies.
Companies that perfect intralogistics may even need less storage space in extreme cases and can achieve additional savings here as well. In addition, the optimized processes mean that the remaining employees are very clear about the work steps and that there are few communication problems because there are clearly defined processes.
Disadvantages of intralogistics
Perfecting processes, promoting automation and even letting machines communicate with one another sounds wonderful, but it is an extreme change for companies that have not done anything in this direction yet.
The prerequisites are diverse, so an intensive theoretical study of the existing processes is required in order to be able to optimize them. You have to examine the entire supply chain, rethink the spatial conditions and identify potential savings.
The next step is to check which options for better intralogistics would be fundamentally conceivable. These then have to match the existing budget. On the one hand, this saves staff, on the other hand, extensive IT infrastructure has to be set up – and this also requires appropriate specialist knowledge, i.e. in most cases new people are needed in the company who are familiar with process optimization and IT systems.
The main disadvantage is the great effort that perfected intralogistics can entail. As a result, the conditions in the company may change and so constant adjustments are necessary, which means ongoing effort.
The networking of different machines and also the planning, monitoring and optimization of the processes are typically based on professional software solutions.
The usable software solutions include in particular:
- Warehousing software
- Process management software
- Detailed 3D animations and visualizations of processes
- Graphic process overviews and mapping of relationships between different processes
The implementation of the software solutions requires that the other IT infrastructure is also coordinated with the respective software. It is important to opt for a complete package here and not create many different, non-coherent isolated solutions. This ensures that there is a central dashboard for monitoring all activities in this area and that possible errors are quickly identified.
The application areas of the software solutions are diverse and in some cases go as far as specific details, such as the exact arrangement of goods in the warehouse and the simple navigation of forklifts within the storage areas.
It is important that companies always make sure that they do not just buy solid IT solutions, but that there are actually people in the company who understand the software from the ground up. The knowledge brought in here must always be available and well documented to ensure that there are no problems even if IT experts are not present themselves.
According to foodanddrinkjournal, intralogistics offers manufacturing companies in particular great savings opportunities and generally the opportunity to optimize processes. This not only benefits your own production time, it can also be used to reduce personnel costs and lower prices on the market.
Perfecting intralogistics requires a lot of know-how. This specialist knowledge is supported by modern software solutions, automation and machine-to-machine communication.
At the same time, the costs and the implementation effort should not be underestimated and require that all activities to improve internal logistics are precisely planned.