By Anike Murrenhoff, Christoph Pott, Moritz Wernecke and Philipp-Akira Bürger | Fraunhofer IML – A new concept for the digital design of intralogistics systems is being developed in the Innovation Laboratory. Involving the employees is an important factor for achieving success.

In times of volatile markets, hybrid services are required to ensure the flexibility and agility of the supply chain and to expand competitive process and cost structures. The socio-technical networks at the interface between humans and technology have to be able to adapt dynamically and individually and to provide highly flexible hybrid services. This means constant change has become the normal state of affairs and rigid, heavyweight planning is now obsolete. The concept of digital design answers the question of how agile design and implementation processes must look for future logistics systems in order to be able to exploit the potential flexibility of hybrid services.

The concept of digital design
  • The key instance here is the »DIGITAL TWIN« – a digital image of the logistics system. This is where data about all the different statuses of the system are gathered and stored. They then form the basis for planning, analysis and optimisation in all other modules of the digital design. It is then possible to use the status of the digital twin in simulations to predict future system statuses.
  • Such predictions are transferred to a  »MONITORING SYSTEM«  that analyses and observes the key figures in the intralogistics system. As soon as a key figure is forecast to exceed or fall below certain pre-set parameters, an adjustment to the system is triggered.

  • The monitoring system is connected to a »PLANNING SYSTEM« that helps to re-plan the processes and technologies. On the basis of any functional and performance requirements that have changed in the intralogistics system, it develops various technology variants and dimensioning – providing an important basis for the planner to make decisions on how to adapt the system.
  • Having a virtual image of a re-planned system enables any weak points of a solution variant created in the planning system to be evaluated before it is implemented physically – this is called »PARTICIPATIVE REALISATION« . Employees can practise new processes and how to handle the new techniques before they are actually implemented and, if necessary, can even get involved in designing the solution.

May 2018

About the researchers

Anike Murrenhoff, Christoph Pott, Moritz Wernecke and Philipp-Akira Bürer are responsible for the work package »Digital Design«.