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Industry 4.0 needs smart intralogistics

In addition to the smart factory, smart intralogistics is considered a central building block for Industry 4.0. The development of "smart" internal logistics requires a holistic concept and competent advice.
Pascal Kiefer, Orbis
May 4, 2017
Industry 4.0
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Smart intralogistics, from goods receipt and production supply to goods issue and shipping, is indispensable for Industry 4.0. But even in the SAP environment, there is a need to catch up on this point: Goods movements are often still recorded in Excel, in-house programming or on paper and transferred to the SAP software by hand.

Critical situations only become apparent with a time delay, current KPIs are missing for decision-making, and media disruptions cause long throughput and delivery times.

Anyone who wants to make their intralogistics smart in the sense of Industry 4.0 therefore needs a holistic approach: robust, self-controlling control loops, IT- or Auto-ID-supported processes in the warehouse, in order picking and in transport, a paperless data flow from data capture to SAP ERP or S/4 Hana, and the right organizational structure and warehouse technology.

The art is to intelligently link all the individual components so that a competitive advantage is created. This requires comprehensive know-how and the use of suitable methods for analyzing and optimizing processes, as well as the selection of the appropriate auto-ID technology and IT solutions.

It is therefore advisable to enlist the support of an experienced partner who has the necessary consulting, process and technology expertise and provides all services from a single source.

Processes and organization

Since material flow is one of the biggest cost drivers in the logistics process chain, every optimization measure starts with a material flow analysis, which investigates the weak points in the processes, their causes and then remedies them.

Time and cost savings can be achieved by changing the picking process from "goods to person" to "person to goods", for example, or by renewing the conveyor technology.

Organizational changes such as the cross-departmental centralization of the deployment planning of internal transports help to ensure that transport resources such as forklifts are optimally utilized and expensive empty runs are avoided.

Add-ons and Auto-ID

The IT solutions also need to be put to the test. As a rule, the standard functions of SAP logistics applications do not sufficiently support the complex, often individual processes in transport control and picking planning or the formation of picking waves - depending on the existing warehouse management software.

This gap can be closed by SAP-based add-ons that integrate seamlessly into the SAP software, extend it with the required functions without modification - and ideally come from the consulting partner. The prerequisite for smart intralogistics is a "real-time view" of the internal material flow.

This can be done, for example, with the help of Auto-ID-based, dialog-supported mobile data capture, which automatically transfers information about every goods movement to the SAP back end without the need for documents.

This speeds up throughput times and ensures process reliability, which in turn has a positive impact on delivery reliability and customer satisfaction.

Of course, the end users' desire for a contemporary, intuitive user interface must also be taken into account. In the SAP environment, the Orbis Multi-Process Suite (MPS) is particularly suitable for this.

The Abap-based solution is suitable for industrial use, fully integrated into SAP processes and visualizes all relevant information in an easy-to-understand form. Another plus point is the real-time processing of large volumes of data - keyword Big Data - as made possible by the in-memory database Hana.

If all these criteria are met, nothing stands in the way of smart intralogistics.

Pascal Kiefer, Orbis

Pascal Kiefer is Head of Business Center SAP, Manufacturing, Orbis

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