Logistics giant Würth relies on open systems

Open source software becomes a driver of the platform economy

Stefan Reuss, Head of Digital Solutions and IT at Würth Service GmbH & Co. KG.

Logistics and trade companies are constantly looking for digital solutions that make processes and systems more efficient, secure and user-friendly. At present, large companies in particular are deliberately using open source software for this purpose, i.e. freely available software instead of commercial programs. Stefan Reuss, Head of Digital Solutions and IT of Würth Industrie Service, also considers this approach to be the right way forward in the platform economy. In this article, he explains why the world market leader in the distribution of assembly and fastening materials is committing itself to the "Supply Chain Execution" innovation project within the "Silicon Economy Logistics Ecosystem" research project.

Efficient logistics requires more than “just” mastering the physical processes in warehouse and transport. In fact, the information flow must work smoothly. The systems have to be planned correspondingly. As a logistics specialist, Würth provides its customers with an optimum planning, organization and control of national and international transport. Of course, the company already has platforms that control logistics processes in the areas of transport, freight cost management and procurement across companies simply, transparently and effectively. With the planned implementation of open source software for platforms of this kind, the "Silicon Economy Logistics Ecosystem" innovation project nevertheless preached to the converted at Würth. Because: Würth does not only feel obliged to implement new developments, but also to actively push them forward.

Open source helps to avoid isolated and duplicate solutions

In numerous areas of the company – in particular in IT system and service management – Würth already relies on technically mature open source solutions that can be seamlessly integrated in its own technical infrastructure. For the company, open source is also the basis for commercial software. By participating in the »Supply Chain Execution« innovation project, Würth supports the plan that open source infrastructure and open source software become the driver of the platform economy in Germany and Europe. The big advantage for companies is that in future all platforms will be compatible with each other and an unhindered flow of information will be possible.   

"Supply Chain Execution" project delivers first components

In the innovation project, supply chains in the area of C-part supply (two and multi container kanban) for assembly and production lines will be defined. C-parts are low-value materials with high procurement quantity such as screws, nuts, washers for plants or machines. The project focusses on

  • increasing transparency in the supply chain and the planning reliability as well as reducing the work load and this
  • both in the area of operative logistics and logistics planning and disposition (e.g. tendering, awarding and invoicing of logistics services such as transport, handling and storage).

The first step is to design a practice-relevant target process for the entire supply chain. By “extracting” the basic logistics functions (basic work for the technical components collected in the so-called Logistics Broker) and defining the process and IT interfaces (basic work for the IoT Broker), individual use cases are defined and the solution components (software and possibly hardware) are prototypically developed and implemented as minimal viable products.

Together stronger

Later on, the technical solutions developed in the operational context will be available to all companies as open source components. This affects in particular:

  • supply integration services
  • article tracking services and
  • functions for the transport management, e.g. the automatic tendering for transports

Today, these functionalities are standard in the platforms of large companies, however, they are expensive proprietary developments so far. With regard to the global competition, increasing customer requirements und high innovation speed, however, it is only possible to turn visions into reality promptly and consistently by working together.



Stefan Reuss is Head of Digital Solutions and IT at Würth Industrie Service GmbH & Co. KG in Bad Mergentheim, an independent subsidiary of the Würth group. The Würth Group focuses on the global trade in assembly and fastening materials. Würth Industrie Service offers more than 1.1 million customer-specific articles and special parts as a basis for professional industrial C-parts processing and more than 200,000 products for trade and industry. Screws and screw accessories belong to the assortment as well as dowels, tools or chemical-technical products and industrial safety. Screws and screw accessories belong to the assortment as well as dowels, tools or chemical-technical products and industrial safety. Since, 2013, the company has been working on intelligent future solutions together with scientists in an “Enterprise Lab” at Fraunhofer IML.


For many years, the Federal Association for IT, Telecommunications and New Media Bitkom, based in Berlin, has been publishing studies and assessments on open source as an integral part of the digital economy.  For the first time, the "Open Source Monitor 2019" gives an overview of the status quo in Germany. The study published this year shows that 75 percent of companies show interest in open source and are open to this topic. Only 4 percent state that they are skeptical or dismissive of open source. However, only 1 out of every 5 companies has an open source strategy, and more than 75 percent have no strategic approach. And not even a third of the companies participate in the development or further development of open source software. Looking at Germany as a business location, the greatest potential of open source lies untapped.


The English version of the study report (PDF, 2,6 MB) is available for download here.