High performance, low costs – or, to be more specific: strict compliance with deadlines, short throughput times, high capacity, low stocks – this is the dilemma with which production logistics has been faced for many years. This has now been accentuated by the fact that customers are more particular about receiving their products and services and expect this to be faster and cheaper. The effect of these trends is felt in production logistics.
"Intelligent factories stand out as a result of their transformational ability, resource efficiency, ergonomic design and the integration of customers and business partners in business and value creation processes – with logistics systems tailored to this,"
"Intralogistics plays a significant role because it is what makes flexible workflows in value streams possible." He goes on to add that this ensures that the right parts are actually supplied to workplaces in the right quantity and quality and within the shortest of time periods. According to him, thinking and working in networks – supported by the new possibilities offered by information technology and communication – is a prerequisite for excellent economic performance and intralogistics can make this possible.
"Traditional factory structures and handed-down planning methods collapse under dynamic restrictions",
"Long and medium-term planning is hardly possible.” He explains that production which is both lean and flexible at the same time requires real-time transparency for process management, and this transparency can be improved by digitisation.
He says this is because digital analysis and the real-time provision of market and product information generate new information, e.g. from big data analyses, and a time advantage, because essential information can be made rapidly available to the shop floor with maximum consistency. It is his view that the interaction of processes is being noticeably enhanced by digitisation; it is possible to act with significantly more flexibility – "lean" and "flexible" are merging to create "flean".
Industry 4.0 merges functions once separated
"These days manufacturing and assembly plants are still characterised by rigid structures", says Johann Soder, Head of the Technology Division at Bruchsal-based SEW-Eurodrive. "Machines and assembly areas are linked into one another by means of permanently connected material conveyance technology elements such as roller tracks, chain conveyors or other transport facilities."
In his view this requires significant coordination effort as early as the planning stages in order to guarantee the optimum interaction of these machine elements, meaning the structures are
set in stone – not very flexible, but cheap when it comes to acquisition. "In such cases it is very difficult to influence changing framework conditions in ongoing production operations", explains Soder. "At the same time, these kinds of systems have a limited scalability and they are usually designed based on the maximum anticipated throughput of the products being manufactured." He explains that, ultimately, where workloads are reduced, the resources supplied are not used in full.
In his view it is the market that determines what is produced, when and how. He claims that the challenge to overcome in this respect is realising perfectly implemented lean principles and technology approaches from Industry 4.0 and, in doing so, creating factories in line with the success philosophy "man and machine, intelligently combined with one another in the work process".
"That means setting up value creation-oriented, waste-free, flexible and stimulating workflows and supporting these with in-built intelligent automation solutions across divisions", explains Johann Soder.
"The Lean philosophy advocates ensuring the strict separation of value creation and, as an example of a non-value-creating process step, logistics."
Under aspects of Industry 4.0, previously separated functions such as manufacturing, assembly and logistics are intelligently intertwined with one another, thereby merging into one comprehensive system. The close interlinking of industry processes and modern IT techniques with the aim of the smart factory in this Industry 4.0-based production philosophy will, according to Soder, merge the real and virtual worlds into one in future. He goes on to describe how entirely new production methods and processes are conceivable as a result.
"What is novel about this approach is that not only do machines and integrated systems communicate with one another, but as part of Industry 4.0 all systems are intelligently networked with one another and exchange information with the products being produced in real-time",
All psb system approaches integrate returned goods to the process, meaning that they are immediately available for dispatch once again after the incoming inspection, without needing to be returned to the original warehouse stock.