Logistics has once again made a name for itself as a key science for our industrial future in the context of the Federal Government's Year of Science which has "Working World of the Future" as its motto. Using intralogistics as an example, Benedikt Mättig from the "Innovationlab Hybrid Services in Logistics" explains how new technologies can improve work in logistics and production.
Today, you cannot image the working world in manufacturing and logistics companies without robots, automated guided vehicles and intelligent shelves. However, the question on what basis and under what conditions the cooperation between human and technology should take place has been neglected for a long time. Recent studies of the Innovationlab Hybrid Services in Logistics now demonstrate how new technologies lead to humane working conditions. Logistics research therefore positioned itself as a trendsetter and driver of a human-centred digital transformation in the public eye.
Study results of the Innovationlab Hybrid Services in Logistics regarding cognitive ergonomics i.e. the information burden on people, show, for example, that augmented reality (AR) can shape the coexistence of humans and technology in the social networked industry of the future in a way that people are specifically supported and relieved. In future, digital AR-based solutions – i.e. data glasses or the tablet with additional virtual information – can supplement or even replace classic methods of picking and packing in the warehouse. Basically, all studies show that digital solutions are more user-friendly and less burdensome for people. The use of new technologies promises companies both time and cost savings, for example by avoiding errors in picking or packing or by packing pallets and packages in a more space-saving way.
High degree of innovation for practice
The industry's interest in the research results, particularly from logistics, is immense because of two reasons: the efficiency of logistics processes is crucial for the companies’ success today and the solutions from logistics research are generally ready-to-use. This means that a high degree of innovation does not stand in the way of rapid use in practice – on the contrary. Recently, for example, three different picking methods were compared in the training centre of a major brand manufacturer, including two developments by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics. Due to the fundamentally positive results, the solution is currently being further developed and adapted even more specifically to the needs of the employees.
Beyond the Year of Science 2018, logistics research will continue to focus on the topic of "Working World of the Future". After the opening of the test halls in the summer 2018, all interested people can experience essential technologies live and try them out in practice at the location.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Benedikt Mättig is an employee at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics and Head of the Application Centre in the research project "Innovationlab Hybrid Services in Logistics".
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The "Innovationlab Hybrid Services in Logistics" is an interdisciplinary research project in which intelligent technologies for the social networked industry are researched, linked to requirements with respect to business, labour and social science and developed into hybrid services. The core scientific question, which is in the focus here, is: how can the abilities of humans – i.e. intelligence, creativity or motor skills – be best combined with the abilities of technical assistance systems. In the two state-of-the-art halls – a research centre and an application centre – the researchers test and demonstrate the developments of human-technology interaction. Companies are given the opportunity to use the experimental set-ups for their own developments.
More information can be found at www.innovationlab-logistics.com.