Logistik 4.0

Creating the future of logistics with the help of new Logistics 4.0 technology

The real and digital worlds continue to merge in Industry 4.0. The fourth industrial revolution exists not only on paper or as a vision, but also on the shop floor, where Industry 4.0 technologies offer significant competitive advantages to all large, small and mid-size businesses. In the literature, logistics referred as a cross-functional department in the company, highlighting the enormous importance of logistics for all areas of the company. As a result, it is not surprising that some of the fourth industrial revolutions central goals will be impossible to achieve without adapted logistics. The guiding principle of Logistics 4.0 enables the main features of Industry 4.0, such as networking, decentralization, real-time capability, and service orientation. As a result, logistics as an enabler for Industry 4.0 lays the groundwork for future challenges. 

Logistics 4.0-Success factors

When it comes to Logistics 4.0 consulting, the Intralogistics and -IT Planning department is at the interface of research and private industry sector. The experts in Intralogistics and -IT Planning have detailed knowledge of the Logistics 4.0 market and continuously monitor it as interpreters between technology developers (both internal and external) and technology users. The same is true for their understanding of the Logistics 4.0 research landscape, which is equally extensive as a result of their participation in current research projects. Fraunhofer IML is a »pioneer« and »Thought leader« in context of Logistics 4.0. Both results from research activities and technologies from the private industry sector are taken into account for finding solutions in the current projects in the field of Logistics 4.0 logistics consulting.

Logistics 4.0-Technologies

The market for innovative Logistics 4.0 technologies is diverse, with new solutions being added on a nearly daily basis. The market´s technology-driven nature, in particular, presents companies with significant challenges in developing concrete use cases and solution approaches for their own businesses. Exactly at this point, the Intralogistics and -IT Planning department assists with its Logistics 4.0 consulting service offering.

The range of services is constantly examined for new Logistics 4.0 technologies and collected in a longlist using defined criteria through continuous market analysis. On the one hand, there are Logistics 4.0 technology providers with marketable products, and on the other hand, there are research institutions developing new Logistics 4.0 technologies. Fraunhofer IML, as an applied research institution, plays an important role here, as both marketable products and new products are independently researched. Thus, marketable products are included in the solution space within the framework of Logistics 4.0 consulting, while solutions not served by the market are jointly developed. In-house research and familiarity with external Logistics 4.0 technologies result in extensive know-how about technologies that can be applied profitably to any Logistics 4.0 project. 

Examples of Logistics 4.0 Technologies from Fraunhofer IML:

  • Multishuttle Move – driverless transportation system powered by swarm intelligence
  • RackRacer – climbing Shuttle
  • Coaster® – smart device
  • InBin – intelligent container
  • InventAIRy – autonomous flying robot system
© Fraunhofer IML

Logistics 4.0 consulting – maximizing company potential!

Prevalent trends such as increasing globalization, individualization, and digitalization are just few examples of how social change manifests itself. The strong individualization of products confronts production with fundamental changes as a result of increased flexibility. This is also true for intralogistics, which is dealing with increasingly complex (planning) tasks.

To be ready for the future in terms of material flow, we collaborate with our customers to create a »Logistics 4.0 vision« that takes material and information flow to the next level of innovation and charts a long-term course (»Think big, start small«).

We have created a standardized procedure for a successful logistics 4.0 consulting process. The figure depicts our general 5-step procedure.

1.       Definition of requirements

2.       Identification of fields of action

3.      Develop Logistics 4.0 solutions

4.       Logistics 4.0 target picture

5.       Roadmap 4.0

© Fraunhofer IML

1. Definition of requirements

Individually in joint workshops with the customer, a uniform understanding of the topic of Logistics 4.0 is created at the start of the consulting process, information is provided about the breadth and depth of the topic Logistics 4.0, and its opportunities and possibilities (innovation, trends, challenges, potential benefits etc.), as well as possible applications in logistics are identified. Furthermore, expectations and requirements are meticulously documented, framework conditions are defined, and an initial Logistics 4.0 is developed.

2. Identification of fields of action

In this consulting phase, as-is surveys and a detailed inspection are carried out at the selected location. In further joint workshops, potentials and fields of actions are derived, which offer starting points for future-oriented Logistics 4.0 technologies for your company. The Intralogistics and -IT Planning department supports this process with technical and methodological expertise.

3. Develop Logistics 4.0 solutions

The Intralogistics and -IT Planning department compiles a longlist of Logistics 4.0 technologies from external companies in the private sector and products from its own research, regardless of the identified optimization potential. Logistics 4.0 technologies are evaluated using the evaluation criteria from phase 1 and a shortlist is created. Furthermore, requirements for future technologies are defined as needed in order to find solutions. Logistics 4.0 solutions take into account both hardware and software products. The selection and transfer of Logistics 4.0 technologies to a shortlist serves as the foundation for the subsequent phase of developing a Logistics 4.0 vision.

4. Logistics 4.0 vision

In the consulting phase, a Logistics 4.0 target vision is developed under the motto »Think big, start small« based on the selected Logistics 4.0 technologies and in close collaboration with the customer. The company-specific target picture is intended to show that the logistics system could look like using the adapted Logistics 4.0 technologies based on the vision created in phase 2 and the newly gained knowledge. The previously defined Logistics 4.0 solutions are aggregated into a holistic logistics system during the process. The emphasis is on optimizing the flow of materials and information for each use case.

5. Roadmap 4.0

A roadmap is then created a part of project planning, a project schedule is created, and work packages are defined in order to prepare the warehouse for the future with a step-by-step migration of Logistics 4.0 applications and technologies. During the process, the technologies orchestrated in the holistic Logistics 4.0 version are placed in a logical implementation sequence while keeping the time horizon in mind.  

© Fraunhofer IML

Following the fifth phase, we provide, among other things, the following additional services:

  • Detailed planning and layout creation
  • Requirement specification
  • Tender support
  • Selection of preferred suppliers
  • Support during contract award negotiations
  • Realization support
  • Training/planning game for the implementation of Logistics 4.0 and digitalization

Our competence team also support you, among other things like:

  • Selection and implementation of Logistics 4.0 showcases
  • Strategic alignment of your company in the direction of Logistics 4.0
  • Preparation of potential studies on the topic Logistics 4.0
  • Creation of concepts for factories and supply chains on the topic of Logistics 4.0


The following are the benefits of Logistics 4.0 consulting at Fraunhofer IML:

  • Independent and public research and consulting institution
  • »Pioneer« und »thought leader« in the field of Logistics 4.0
  • Immediate use of own research findings
  • Access to further research finding via research network.

The following Logistics 4.0 references provide information on successfully implemented projects

Development of Logistics 4.0 in the context of the future »autonomous factory« 

Future megatrends (climate change, scarcity of resources, technological advancement, globalization, demographic change, and individualization) were analyzed for a consumer goods manufacture, and logistical requirements for the factory of the future were derived from them, specifically taking into account specific features of the »autonomous factory«, »efficiency«, »ergonomics« and »product-related adaptability«. As a roadmap, the target scenario was presented in a graduated action plan.


Definition of a »Logistic 4.0-Showcase«

A Logistics 4.0 application was developed for a pharmaceutical group in order to be able to present an initial implementation within the group. The project consisted of workshops to present solution approaches, selection and evaluation of possible applications and the creation of a showcase scenario.


Roadmap for the Factory 2020

A roadmap for the design of future plants was developed for an automotive supplier, taking into account Logistics 4.0 technologies. Comprehensive solution scenarios were derived from the individual technologies and presented with regard to their temporal implementation aspects.


Digitalized metal processing

As part of a transfer project, a concept was developed for a medium-sized company in the Sauerland region with core competence in metal cutting to efficiently control the capacity utilization of individual machines through paperless communication between administration and production. The implementation of smart devices in production, as well as the development and integration of logistics assistance system with the existing ERP system, was also overseen.