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Logistics IT

The make or buy dilemma

In the intralogistics sector as in many others, system manufacturers have long been offering more than just product solutions. More and more customers are expecting a holistic system-based approach.

14 Apr. 2016
Make-or-Buy

Logistic solutions

Subcontracting of logistical services has long since become more than jus a matter for transport and services providers.

"Naturally, outsourcing also provides intralogistics manufacturers themselves with the flexibility to react quickly and efficiently to changes on the market," explains Armin Weih, Deputy Managing Director of the VDMA Materials Handling and Intralogistics Association.

"However, we are seeing yet another type of outsourcing – this time on the user side." Customers in a wide variety of sectors no longer want to buy "just" a product or system; they want throug put performance or process optimisation. "Intralogistics providers are expanding their skills and what they are offering in order to be able to offer their customers more service and support," says Weih. "They are becoming increasingly involved in their customers'’ logistical processes, and actively working with them to shape these processes. This type of added value is becoming more and more important – for both parties."

In some sub-areas manufacturers are also becoming general contractors, who – if desired – can analyse the customer's entire logistics structure and then suggest tailor-made processes and suitable solutions. "The hardware is, of course, delivered in the end, but it has long since ceased being the sole focus," says Weih. "Primarily because nowadays there is a lot of automation and complex IT structures hiding behind the material flow."

It is primarily in these areas that manufacturers are supporting their customers and taking on important tasks. With their sometimes highly flexible systems, intralogistics experts themselves are offering solutions that handle consignments for several customers from one warehouse for 3PL service providers. What is much more important, however, is the IT's client capability. "At present I can't imagine intralogistics experts also taking on the operative outsourcing activities," explains Arne Pierau, Managing Partner of Pierau Unternehmensberatung in Hamburg. "But was it imaginable back then that freight carriers and forwarders would take on these operative activities, as we have seen happening increasingly often over recent years?"

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