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How Intralogistics Transforms Supply Chain and Materials Handling

Intralogistics is gaining prominence as a concept and is experiencing growing traction largely thanks to digital enablement. In this article, we explain what intralogistics is and how it can drive materials handling and processes across your business.

Explaining intralogistics

At its core, intralogistics refers to improving and integrating the logistics around the handling of physical material and data inside a warehouse or in an internal production setting. More recently this approach has also been taken to apply to a wider range of issues that cover supply chains, manufacturing, and logistics in a broader sense.

What are the benefits for businesses?

In the main, applying intralogistics to your facility and your supply chain involves getting goods from A to B in the most efficient manner possible with the assistance of technology. The concept also extends to impact logistics on a wider scale, across facilities, and across borders.

Intralogistics involves data collection and analysis which enables your business to implement efficiency features both inside the warehouse and across your organization. Data can help your business prevent unnecessary staff and vehicle journeys while making sure stock is replenished on time.

It all leads to a leaner, more productive business that is better informed and more responsive. This is why companies around the world are starting to understand the benefits of applying this innovative way of thinking:

  • Toyota recently unveiled an entire division devoted to intralogistics with TALS (Toyota Advanced Logistics Solutions) set up in response to the current challenges surrounding the e-commerce and productivity requirements of materials handling and production processes.
  • At IMHX 2019 event director Rob Fischer stated that “the logistics sector is taking all forms of technology seriously and that automation, robotics and AI are going to have a bigger impact than ever before as warehouse operators look to optimize their intralogistics operations over the next five years”.
Data-driven supply chain modelling

What are technology enablers?

Intralogistics is in essence enabled by technology. It relies on a mix of sensors, logic, and software to automate processes and improve efficiency. These are some of the most important technological components that enable intralogistics:

Robotics and automation

Moving, packing and handling equipment was traditionally a manual job, or at best a job handled by a machine controlled by a person. Now data, automation, and machine learning can have massive impacts on the efficiency of materials handling.

Advanced robotics can now control the movement of materials in an autonomous fashion. Humans are still required in an oversight role, but intralogistics implies that much of the physical movement that takes place inside a building is now automated.

Internet of Things

For automation to work on an industrial scale many small moving parts need to be monitored on an individual level. In turn, for effective monitoring, these moving parts must be connected.

This is where IoT (Internet of Things) technology enables intralogistics: every item is connected to a wider network, allowing for automation and insight into handling, picking, packing, shipment and the time spent on tasks. IoT enables huge amounts of data to be collected, allowing for data science and analytics to map warehouse activity, leading to improved individual and facility efficiency.

Digital Twin

Technology has advanced to the extent that many physical objects and processes can easily and readily be modeled in a digital realm. A digital twin allows companies to compare real-life processes against a model, highlighting where the real-life implementation is suffering from weak points, and where improvements can be made.

Nowadays it is straightforward to create a digital twin of a real-world warehouse scenario or to accurately emulate what happens on the factory floor. Smart components can gather data that is in turn analyzed and processed to enable intralogistics by facilitating real-time fixes to glitches as soon as they are observed.

Enabling intralogistics in your business

As we suggested earlier in this article, intralogistics is a way of thinking. To step into this way of thinking your business needs to engage with a technology partner to help you gather and analyze the data which will enable your enterprise to work as a cohesive, data-driven ecosystem.

You can enable this approch in your business by talking to a technology firm that is experienced in applying software and hardware solutions to the logistics industry. At ELEKS we can show your business how technology-enabled intralogistics can benefit your operations. Reach out to us to find out how intralogistics can support your bottom line.

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sam fleming
Sam Fleming,
President, Fleming-AOD