The impact of Silicon Economy

Creating de-facto Standards with the Silicon Economy

by Dr. Stephan Peters

Dr. Stephan Peters, board member of Rhenus Group. The company is one of the leading logistics service providers operating worldwide with annual sales of 5.4 billion euros and 33,500 employees.

The term “Silicon Economy” has now gained a great level of awareness in academia, but in the business world there is still a lack of clarity about its specific content. However, the more specific use cases will find their way into production and logistics, the more tangible the vision becomes.  With a multitude of application-oriented illustrative projects, the path is currently leading step by step, but straight into the Silicon Economy. Dr. Stephan Peters, board member of Rhenus group, explains why the logistics service provider is campaigning for that project.

Tracking goods, apps for truck drivers to coordinate orders, paperless documentation for exchanging load carriers, applications for generating and managing electric freight papers, or order management for intralogistics technology are part of the standard services in logistics today. The corresponding services are no longer differentiating between businesses. Companies rather offer these services to serve a general expectation of the market with respect to certain basic functions or services. However, companies have time and again developed and purchased their own solutions in recent years – and still continue to do so. This is contrasted with both, high development effort and risks.  

Transparency and flexibility more popular than ever

It is even more serious, however, that there are often no uniform and established solutions on the market for such standard services, which help a significantly large group of users. On the contrary, there are numerous and various solutions and systems existing side by side. This aggravates the networking of market participants and the onboarding of new partners, be it suppliers or customers. In this context, logistics must strive more than ever for transparency and flexibility in light of the progressing digitalization, the increasing complexity of supply chains and the use of artificial intelligence. Having that in mind, logistics in Germany must initiate a shift of paradigm and it has done that with the Silicon Economy, driven by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow a Logistics IML.

The following applies:
•     The larger the group of developers and, in particular, users, the closer one is to a de-facto standardization.
•     The stronger the group’s commitment for a service, the greater the potential for a fast dissemination and application of the service.

Pragmatic standardization through unification of logistics

The common development of services based on open source makes an important contribution to the necessary unification of the logistics community with regard to a pragmatic standardization, in particular in the area of digitizing business processes. As a result, automation potentials are made possible in the orchestration of services on platforms as well as in initiating, contracting, billing and documenting logistics services.

This development will start with standard service – yet, it won’t stop there for a long time.  As diverse as logistics itself, as diverse are the potential applications for open source components that are currently being developed in the Silicon Economy.


Dr. Stephan Peters is a board member of the Rhenus group and is involved in the Silicon Economy project together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow a Logistics IML. With an annual turnover of EUR 5.4 billion, the Rhenus Group is one of the leading global logistics service providers. Rhenus has 33,500 employees across 820 sites. Rhenus and Fraunhofer IML have been engaged in a joint Enterprise Lab for several years.