Logistics industry starts building a European open-source community
The international logistics companies Dachser, DB Schenker, duisport and Rhenus have now established the Open Logistics Foundation in Berlin. The purpose of the non-profit foundation is to build a European open-source community aiming to promote digitalization in logistics and supply chain management based on open source and standardize logistics processes through de facto standards. Not only is a technology initiative like this unique in logistics to date, the founding members are also taking on a pioneering role as to the future topic of open source.
“Together, we want to drive forward the digitalization of logistics. That is why open source is an important success factor for the entire logistics industry and, at the same time, a driver for harmonized processes in digital supply chains. We consider the Open Logistics Foundation to be the first step towards a platform economy based on European legal standards and values. It is both a beginning and an appeal to the logistics sector to think of technology and processes together and actively participate in the open-source community,” the founding members declared in a joint statement. Now it is about anchoring open source in the logistics sector and implementing the internal structures to work with the corresponding hardware and software.
The foundation addresses all logistics-related companies and their IT developers. Through Open Logistics e.V., the funding association, which was also founded in Berlin, it is open to new members from all areas of logistics, ranging from industry, retail and services to freight forwarders and political organizations. Numerous companies already announced their participation in the funding association.
“100 percent digital is not a vision but our common future in more and more use cases.” Open Logistics Foundation
Impetus from the Silicon Economy
The Open Logistics Foundation was initiated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML as part of its Silicon Economy research project which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) with 25 million euros. More than 150 researchers are working on an open-source software and hardware infrastructure that enables companies to process their business operations in an automated way and to offer and use services and data securely across different platforms beyond company boundaries. The software and hardware created during the project duration until 2023 and the developments from the community will form the basis of the Open Logistics Foundation's repository.
Focus on collaborative projects
The core of the foundation's work is the operation of the so-called Open Logistics Repository, a technical platform on which software and hardware interfaces reference implementations and components available as open-source under a free license (permissive license). All tools and components will be free of charge without restriction for commercial applications to promote broad acceptance within the logistics sector. Companies may use them, for example, to expand their platforms or to set up new products and business models faster. The set-up phase of the platform will take place in 2022.
The open-source approach guarantees an open standard for digitalizing logistics processes while offering a significant degree of flexibility for individual customization. Companies that use open source are usually more productive, reduce costs and prevent being tied to proprietary software. Another advantage is that the software solutions are not isolated, but all components are compatible, facilitating digital networking beyond company boundaries.
The main tasks of the foundation also include identifying collaborative projects to be included in the repository. It monitors the quality of the open-source software and guarantees neutrality in its development. Furthermore, it offers training for companies on how to work with the platform.