Position paper on LogiMAT 2014 in Stuttgart
Everything that moves the intralogistics industry
LogiMAT 2014 will reveal the current trends shaping the future of the industry. As a shop window for innovative products and sustainable solutions for the complex interaction and intelligent networking of information and commodity flows, LogiMAT 2014 is also a barometer of trends for current industry developments and solutions.
“Quo vadis intralogistics?” – from 25 to 27 February LogiMAT 2014, the 12th International Trade Fair for Distribution, Materials Handling and Information Flow, will provide the answers. Across 74,000 square metres of exhibition space in six halls of the north and south wings of the Stuttgart Exhibition Centre, more than 1,000 international exhibitors will be presenting innovative solutions for the complex interaction and intelligent networking of information and commodity flows. Over the three days, exhibition management is expecting around 30,000 trade visitors – virtually half of them, based on the experience of many exhibitors in previous years, with specific investment intentions. LogiMAT is thus not only Europe’s largest annually-held international intralogistics trade fair – it’s seen by exhibitors and trade audience alike as an “absolute must”. “LogiMAT”, according to René Holzer, CEO of Gilgen Logistics AG, Oberwangen (Switzerland), representative of the vast majority of exhibitors (see enclosure), has established itself “has definitely established itself as the leading trade fair and networking platform for the intralogistics sector.” In fact, the Trade Fair for Distribution, Materials Handling and Information Flow is growing continuously – in actual, as well as reputational, terms. However, exhibition management deliberately rejects growth at any price. “We focus more on quality and values”, explains Exhibition Director Peter Kazander. “We are and will remain focused on intralogistics and, for exhibitors and trade visitors alike, intend to remain a complete and at the same time compact presentation and information platform.”
Nevertheless, among forklift manufacturers LogiMAT now ranks as “one of the world’s leading trade fairs for the ground conveyor industry” (Ken Dufford, Crown Vice President Europe). Exhibition management is naturally anxious to maintain this position despite its involvement in Asia. “We don’t want to cannibalise our business with LogiMAT China, which we’ll be holding from April in Nanjing with a cycle yet to be decided”, says Kazander. “We’re more interested in offering the European intralogistics industry and, within it, German small and medium-sized businesses especially, an attractive platform for presenting their solutions in one of the prospering markets of the future. This will open up the possibility of direct comparison with their competitors in the Asian sphere. At the same time, we’re systematically transferring the tried-and-tested trade fair features of LogiMAT, such as a first-class accompanying programme, to the target groups in the region of Jiangsu, in which 80 million people live. With straightforward travel routes to Jiangsu, from 10 to 12 April 2014 they’ll receive a concise overview of the industry at LogiMAT China.”
But back to LogiMAT 2014 here in Stuttgart. As the first significant industry gathering of the year, with its wide array of exhibitors and information ranging from procurement via production through to delivery, this year it will once again offer a complete market overview of everything that moves the intralogistics industry. Live events and a total of 23 specialist forums featuring more than 100 top-class speakers from business, research institutions and the international trade media will offer visitors the opportunity to deepen further their understanding of current trend themes – from energy efficiency via shipping logistics and packaging technology through to the demands being placed on technology and management to achieve Industry 4.0 – and to acquire information on what lies behind the trends and approaches to problem-solving.
With the inclusion of the Forum TradeWorld 2014, for the first time LogiMAT will also link intralogistics directly with this important target group of retailing. At the trade forum, manufacturers of brand-name products, representatives of fixed-location retailers and traditional mail-order selling, e-commerce and the multi-channel trade as well as their service partners will discuss the current challenges faced by the industry. With this in mind, LogiMAT will be giving this trade forum its own series of presentations in its accompanying information programme. The range of topics extends from “CEP services – drivers of e-commerce” via “Returns management” through to the “Future Forum Retail.”
The inclusion of TradeWorld 2014 is no accident. This is because across virtually all segments of intralogistics, e-commerce – the increasing move away from fixed-location or “bricks-and-mortar” trade to distance selling and the internet – is proving to be the most important driver of product and solution developments at the present time.
Retailers and service providers alike are faced with the challenges, on the one hand, of meeting customer expectations in terms of on-time delivery and the use of innovations and, on the other, of enhancing potential savings and existing synergies through coordinated collaboration. For companies, quality is becoming the characteristic which differentiates the competition. Moreover, many trading companies, particularly in the distance selling and retail sectors, have an investment backlog which is only now triggering a wave of modernisation. The order books of the materials handling technology manufacturers, system integrators and software suppliers are correspondingly well filled. In addition, with their presentations this year many of them are highlighting the solutions they are offering for multi-channel trade and the challenges it faces.
The prevailing trends are reflected, for instance, in small-scale order-picking structures for high-quality, error-free order-picking. Accordingly, among materials handling technology exhibitors in Halls 1 and 3 of the north wing of the Exhibition Centre, the focus is on automation systems offering users greater flexibility and order-picking using the goods-to-man principle with a high degree of scalability in terms of customer requirements as well as future upgradability. From simple, vehicle-based systems through to traditional, fully automated order-picking systems, they lead to improvements in capacity, enhanced efficiency and time savings in these processes. Materials handling technology using sequenced, from-bin transfers optimised in line with store layout or picking locations with light and screen displays for error-free multi-order-picking are just some examples of the current range of solutions in materials handling technology. Here, with a view to demographic change and the skills shortage, issues such as ergonomics and the humanisation of the workplace, for instance through reduced noise levels, are gaining increasingly in importance. From a technological standpoint, the solutions focus increasingly often on integrated, powerful sensor technology and image recognition technologies.
“From a systems perspective, with the increasing fusion of shuttle and driverless transport systems (DTS) as well as robotics, a trend is intensifying that we’ve already been tracking for the past few years”, says Kazander. Carrier vehicles and systems for the automated, unlinked transport of containers and pallets in the warehouse, such as multishuttles, are breaking through system limits. With them, plant and equipment makers and materials handling technology manufacturers are pushing forward ever further into areas that were originally the preserve of forklift manufacturers. In this type of equipment too, the latest versions of which can be seen at LogiMAT, powerful optical sensors such as laser scanners and 3-D camera systems are being used for navigation and localisation. You can take a close look at some of them in Halls 1, 3, 6 and 8.
The forklift manufacturers who, with 30 exhibitors in Halls 6 and 8, represent virtually the entire industry, are working on shuttle solutions for efficient shelf stocking and are optimising the “forklift workstation” in terms of comfort, energy efficiency and drive technology. For warehouse machinery, which is now provided with lithium-ion storage batteries by all leading suppliers, the integration of an intuitive remote control for example offers greater flexibility and efficiency. “Besides this, solutions will be on show at LogiMAT enabling users to retrofit their storage technology equipment from conventional battery technology to lithium-ion storage batteries”, explains Kazander. “Against the background of Industry 4.0, for ground conveyor manufacturers the networking and connection of machinery is also playing an increasingly important role as regards machine-to-machine communication.”
These manufacturers are therefore placing ever greater emphasis on developing sensor systems for measuring and controlling changes. This is currently finding expression in fleet management systems and instrumentation. Assistance systems on the forklifts record markings in the warehouse and trigger appropriate movement commands. Real time communication with the merchandise information or warehouse management system thereby achieves savings in time of up to 25 per cent and a significant rise in transhipment capacity.
Software is the enabler of a large number of the above developments. Both the materials handling technology and forklift manufacturers now have IT systems for inventory management and machinery control in their product portfolios. Some of them are confronting the competition of pure software suppliers by taking their own exhibition stand in Hall 5. “The most significant trends in the software sector for intralogistics now stretch beyond the bounds of the warehouse”, is the Exhibition Director’s verdict. The value added chains are becoming ever longer and more complex, the number of people involved plus channels of distribution is increasing. In future, the interactions between logistics partners will become more pronounced. Against this background, market observers and system providers see the important trends in logistics software in the fact that processes and workflows are also being viewed, managed and optimised holistically across traditional boundaries between warehouse and transport logistics. By viewing warehousing and transportation in an integrated manner and optimising the logistical network across sites, including logistics service providers and suppliers, with appropriate resource management and efficiency considerable potential for improvement can be unlocked.
“With their standard systems for warehousing and holistic organisation and control of the supply chain, several software providers at LogiMAT are demonstrating the latest system developments”, is how Kazander sums it up. In terms of operational WMS, these are aimed at vertical integration, in which the WMS takes on both administrative tasks from the ERP system as well as materials handling flow control. A look at horizontal process levels shows that the boundaries between warehouse management systems and transport management systems are beginning to blur. Adjacent functions such as dock and yard management or functions for connecting CEP service providers or functions for the localisation and navigation of forklifts in real time are becoming increasingly important. The aim is to dovetail processes even more closely together and to automate them further. At the same time, the intention is to increase flexibility and transparency. “In the process, the visualisation and monitoring of warehouse processes is gaining further in importance”, as Kazander knows. “Consequently, the innovative solutions on show at LogiMAT offer control panels which go beyond the functionality of information systems and – even on mobile terminals such as smartphones or tablets – offer a direct view into the warehouse, facilitating the active control of resources and workflows.” In addition, the leading providers are presenting IT systems with which strategic questions such as choice of site or of a multimodal network configuration can be resolved.
Under the exhibition motto “Intelligent networking – mastering complexity”, as the above examples show, both in terms of claim and content LogiMAT actually covers all the issues that are moving intralogistics – and, with its wide range of exhibitors, offers visitors a nevertheless concise overview of current trends and solutions in the industry. At the same time LogiMAT, with its logical allocation of industry segments to the individual halls, remains the efficient, compact business forum it has always been. “This is why, as a barometer of trends and an information platform, in 2014 we’ll again be offering exhibitors and trade audience alike the ideal framework for a successful fair event”, concludes the Exhibition Director. “We’re looking forward to three exciting days packed with discussion and information about everything that moves the intralogistics industry.”
Munich, 25.02.2014 – Reproduction free of charge. Copies of publication to: EUROEXPO GmbH, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, 80912 Munich, Germany.