An Efficient Digital Transformation Path in Internal Logistics
10. 12. 2018
Digitalisation of internal logistics enables us to collect a large amount of data on logistics and business processes, which can be efficiently used for progress.
Networking, socialising, learning about trends and anticipating the future. Every year, these are the factors that convince us to travel to Dortmund and the Fraunhofer IML Institute to participate in the meeting of the representatives of companies that cooperate in the Warehouse-Logistics project led by the Institute. There we exchange experience and good practices, sharing the interesting approaches and ideas that enable us to enrich our services and products.
Changing Processes without Affecting Efficiency
The extraordinarily broad area of digital transformation of internal logistics was a fil rouge of this year’s meeting. When internal logistics users embark on the path of digitalisation, they usually first clean up their paper-based business processes, resulting in so-called visibility. This means that the IT system enables an insight into all of the components that are important for internal logistics at any time in a clear and simple manner. Thus, for example, we can see the real stock situation and its distribution, order status by all intermediate phases, etc. In the continuation, we capture and display all possible additional data, such as the number of different events, times and locations of individual operations. It is this data that help us optimise processes and the system.
Digitalisation also addresses the challenges companies face today due to the ever-changing environment as well as clients’ needs and requests: changing processes and rapidly changing capacity without impairing efficiency. We can redesign the software of a fully digitalised system for warehouse logistics in line with different requirements, and with the right configuration we can maintain a high level of efficiency. Some examples of such warehouse systems are AGV transport, Autostore-type warehouse, Skypod, etc. It is this kind of system that may be the right answer to the rapid changes of online stores, start-ups undergoing expansion, and so on.
Without an insight into indicators, the stock situation and orders in real time, rapid changes and high efficiency are no longer possible, even in simple systems with just a manual warehouse.
Machine Learning – One of the Tools for Optimisation and Improvements
A well set-up system for collecting large amounts of data on tasks and their implementation, as well as other events in logistics and business processes, also enables further development.
Algorithms help us improve parameters for existing processes, dynamic planning, anticipation of the expected scope of work, necessary and unnecessary stocks, etc., on the basis of the set of data available from statistics, simulation, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
These technologies are already used by large logistics systems such as Amazon and Alibaba, where they have helped ensure optimal efficiency of operational management. Smaller companies use novel technologies to help them optimise and improve their systems, enabling them to improve their situational awareness and bring it to a higher level compared to their competition.