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.
Users Have to Take Action
Digitalization has opened up new opportunities: In the future, artificial intelligence, integrated into pallets and racks, could make it possible for the goods themselves to behave autonomously – and not just vehicles. It could also allow them to communicate with one another in real time. Scientists and intralogistics companies are already testing these kinds of systems. The result: Even greater efficiency and entirely new ways of thinking about the transport of merchandise, process chains, production and distribution. Managers of major international companies are saying it has never been so cool to work in supply chain management.
Take a look at our FST warehouse on the infographic.
In the May edition of our magazine ESSENTIAL, everything revolves around digitalization. Read more here on intralogistics, FST’s new warehouse, what our digital future means for society and industry, our thoughts on digitalization, and how we live and breathe this trend.
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