Automation in specific terms: Aside from the theoretical concepts regarding the transition of an entire service industry to digital tools, logistics specialists already automated many small, specific tasks. For example, DB Schenker is already testing many processes in an effort to automate logistics in a useful way whether it is a warehouse or through autonomous vehicles.
But the automation of the flow of materials is one of the greatest challenges for logistics specialists. The obstacles at every point along the entire supply chain are still too great to digitize and automate additional processes, and that slows down the quicker and more efficient processes when it comes to the loading and unloading of vehicles, for example.
According to a future study done by the automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen, unanticipated wait times for the loading and unloading of vehicles are one of the biggest stress factors for truck drivers. When it comes to urban delivery traffic, traffic jams and long wait times on customers’ ramps ensure that planned stops cannot be made in an effort to make sure that the drivers’ working hours are not exceeded.
How Bayer is Handling It in Dormagen
Some companies have been using automated unloading processes for years in order to save them time, material, and personnel. For example, this is how the chemical company Bayer is using automated processes in Dormagen. The pallets are scanned, checked, and presorted for the automated truck loading system. After that, the pallets are packed for transport and either put into high-bay storage or sent to automated loading. In the receiving area, the cargo is removed from the truck by an automated push floor system, registered, and assigned a spot at the plant.
Or the steel manufacturer is Thyssen Steel Europe (TSE): At this year’s Transport and Logistics trade show in Munich, TSE’s Bert Kloppert indicated how important well-organized time frames are when it comes to avoiding expensive down time for trucks in plants. Kloppert, who is responsible for the advancement of plant logistics, spoke at the “Struggle on the Ramp!” forum about the task of controlling the entrance of the plant in Duisburg. The plant, which is the size of the Principality of Monaco, boasts an estimated 21,000 entrances and exits a day. The steel manufacturer has invested massively in digital processes such as QR codes, digital gate control cards, license plate recognition, and intelligent traffic light and gate controls, which ensure that punctual drivers can get back into the yard very quickly.
But the advancement of logistics depends heavily on the preemptive digitization of the processes involved in the supply chain. TSE Representative Kloppert said that the company could better control the flow if it could coordinate with the electronic data transmission of its suppliers. But such efforts have been thus far been prevented by data protection laws and the fact that many suppliers are not as technologically advanced.
Partners in a Network
The automation of a supply chain assumes that all the companies involved are real partners working together in a network structure. All the companies involved in the production and delivery chains must also, in digital reality, be able to collect data and make it available. An intelligent, self-controlled, and interconnected logistics system will become part of everyday life when intelligent systems for data recording, data storage, data analysis, and data distribution work between humans and machines.
“Traffic jam on the ramp? Only by working together can logistics specialists, their customers, and service providers make the process more efficient through automation. #Automation #Logistics“Tweet WhatsApp
A poll done on behalf of the digital association Bitkom shows that many small and mid-sized businesses know that digitization makes transport quicker, lowers costs, eliminates mistakes, and is more environmentally friendly, but the rate at which digital technologies are being implemented is still slow because the cost of initial investment is high. Digital tools and automated processes like the loading and unloading of trucks are just too expensive for many small and mid-sized service providers.