Warehouse Management and Intralogistics Systems
Volatile customer demand, growing product complexity and numerous interdependent planning problems lead to high complexity for the design of intralogistics systems and processes. Due to the high share of semi-automated and manual processes the design of the human-machine interaction is of high significance – for a high service performance and for the working conditions of employees. Simultaneously, technological innovations stipulated by Industry 4.0 have the potential to significantly change the processes in warehouses in the future.
The adequate design of intralogistics systems and processes in terms of Logistics Service Engineering is the key aspect of the research focus “Warehouse Management and Intralogistics Systems”. The methodical and instrumental planning support contains the design of operational processes as well as the choice of suitable intralogistics technologies. A focal point in the area of human-machine interaction is the identification of ergonomic improvement potentials, which are gaining additional relevance due to the demographic change. With regard to Industry 4.0, innovative solutions relating to automatization or digitalization are evaluated from an economic perspective.
Simulation is a particularly well suited tool to gain control over the complex planning problems in warehousing and intralogistics. According to each individual task, specifically designed simulation models are developed to consider the specific challenges of individual intralogistics systems.
Selected Research Questions
The high number of interdependent planning problems (reaching from the determination of inventory levels of single articles to the assignment of storage locations considering different routing policies in person-to-part picking systems) put high requirements on Logistics Service Engineering in warehousing and intralogistics. By simulations, processes in warehouses can be simulated and intralogistics systems can be designed in such a way that the best possible trade-off between storage costs and delivery service can be achieved.
- Operative process improvements in logistics for a medium-sized industrial company
In the context of automatization and digitalization new technological solutions are developed which are supposed to automate also complex processes in warehouses. Before a possible implementation, warehouse managers need a profound analysis whether recent technologies can actually reduce storage costs and processing times. For this purpose, innovative intralogistics systems (e.g. mobile picking robots) are simulated und economically evaluated. Using this approach, the market potential of new automatization solutions can be determined as well.
Despite advancing technological change, a high share of warehousing is still manually driven. The design of the interaction between manual processes and automation technologies in warehouses is therefore the focal point of this research topic. For the design of an efficient and effective interaction between humans and machines, the analysis of possible applications of recent technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality is part of our research. Especially, the effects of individual human characteristics and socio-cultural developments (e.g. internationalization of the working world, demographic change) on the acceptance and efficiency of supporting technical systems is investigated.
Whereas it is possible to rely on standardized processes and systems in the context of product development, logistics service development is mainly based on manual working processes. The aim of this research topic is to capture, systemize and finally standardize different processes in contract logistics. Especially the evaluation of application possibilities of universally usable simulation models in the context of tender management is thereby a main topic. Subject of research in this topic is therefore the systemizing and development of standardized model elements for simulation based service development.
The cooperative use of storage and logistics facilities offers especially for small and medium-sized companies the possibility to cope with future challenges in the context of an increasing urbanization. However, difficulties in the realization of such cooperations often occur due to information asymmetries or conflicting interests of the cooperating parties. Subject of this research topic are therefore the different possibilities for the design of horizontal cooperations and revenue sharing mechanisms in warehousing. Thereby, especially the effects of different behaviors of the cooperating parties are investigated by simulation.