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Even back in the pre-digital era, warehousing was in a constant state of flux. Today, with the help of new technologies, the intralogistics industry is taking totally new approaches. It is experimenting with automation and networking. A new FST warehouse is just one example.
Logistics is boring. That’s what many dealers, factory managers and manufacturers have thought over the decades, even as they acknowledged the need for it. If a good, a raw material or a product was at a particular location or was making its way from point A to point B, it wasn’t creating any value. Or so the thinking went. But there is a great deal of value in logistics and warehousing, and this has only become clear in recent years. The reality is that value creation chains are becoming more global and entirely new ways of analyzing and improving logistics are emerging thanks to digitalization.
IT Handles the Entire Process
“We want to take advantage of new opportunities to improve efficiency,” said Sören Schmitz, Vice President Global Supply Chain Management at FST. “And we wanted to switch to a more advanced warehouse management system.” Since the size of the previous warehouse at Lorsch was no longer adequate, FST decided to adopt a concept for the future when it relocated to a new site. Today the entire process in the warehouse is IT-controlled. For example, with the help of data glasses, employees see what item should be picked next. Even the vehicles drive partially under automatic control. Self-piloted forklifts designed for narrow aisles stow pallets away in high storage racks.
The forklifts only need a third of the usual aisle width. The result is more storage space and greater efficiency thanks to modern technology. This makes FST’s new warehouse a model for several trends in intralogistics: Autonomous vehicles, networked data and human-machine cooperation are on the rise. With these systems, the company is aiming high – and not just in terms of the physical height of the shelves.
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