Logistics companies that continue to cling to a rigid and relatively one-dimensional approach to storage and shipping will face major difficulties with remaining competitive in the near future. Many companies already utilize partially or even fully automated transport systems. The question for logistics companies is which steps are necessary to keep pace with the developments.
In future, networking between data and transport logistics will play an important role. In particular, the ‘Internet of Things’ will give rise to intelligent, autonomous vehicles that create automated flexible logistics solutions which we can barely imagine today. If one considers this development from the perspective of e-commerce, in which constantly increasing production involves transporting ever smaller batch sizes, then production facilities will eventually become impossible to operate without flexible, integrated transport logistics. In view of this, the fourth industrial revolution (keyword ’Smart Factory‘) can only succeed if logistics systems are capable of supplying raw materials, preliminary products and finished items to their correct destination by means of automated processes.
However, these conclusions have yet to achieve general acceptance throughout the logistics industry. “Mid-sized companies remain relatively conservative with regard to these issues. Many are waiting to see what the major companies will do. Then they will copy them in the next few years and decades”, observes Thilo Jörgl. Yet this is a poor strategy in a time in which digitalization is advancing at such an extreme pace. “Even smaller companies can already implement aspects such as predictive maintenance.”
Rainer Buchmann from SSI SCHAEFERs emphasizes the same point: “A modern machine or system generally includes all the necessary features. As a result, every company already possesses the foundation for Industry 4.0, regardless of its size.”