CeMAT AUSTRALIA 2016 brought the latest updates on intralogistics and materials handling to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from July 14-16 2016. We were lucky to speak with Sascha Schmel, Managing Director of VDMA about the latest innovations in intralogistics and where technology will take us in the next five years, see what he has to say about the new era for supply chain management.
My name is Sascha Schmel and I am the Managing Director of VDMA, Materials Handling and Intralogistics Department and we’ve been a partner to the CeMAT organisation since forever, and also we are a partner of this event here which is very nice and I’m very happy to be here.
Question: By 2025, how will Industrie 4.0 have impacted materials handling?
Sascha: In how far Industrie 4.0 will have impacted materials handling in 2025, yeah, that’s probably a vision from now but I guess it will have changed everything like in many other branches. We are just about to do a step in the 4th Industrial Revolution, and taking on the story that I tried to tell yesterday, of course warehouses will still have the products inside and they will still arrange the products to collect the packages to go from A to B. But, how we do this, that can change completely.
Will we have robots on the spot? How will people interact with those robots? How many people will be in the warehouses? I think that’s all going to changes are going to impact the materials handling sector very deeply, and for me it’s probably good. I think change is the word of the moment.
Question: Do you have any examples of innovative technologies that will change warehouse operations?
Sascha: Yeah I think a lot is going on already in terms of innovative products, we’ve seen a lot of them in CeMAT at Hannover, of course we also have some examples rights here in this spot. I think the first step will be to have more automisation and some digitalisation. Meaning that machines will do their job without being programmed right away by a person.
Robots will learn more from the behaviour of a person so there will be more interaction, and maybe AGVs will not go the way they are programmed but adapt to the behaviour of people in the warehouse. So they will position themselves in a good way so that the person acting can load or unload the vehicle, so it will save time, it will be more safe, and it will be a new of cooperation between man and machine.
Question: You stated that Industrie 4.0 isn’t a revolution, it’s an evolution. Can you explain how this is occurring in Europe?
Sascha: The question between Industrie 4.0 being rather an evolution than revolution, if we look around then we see a lot of products that now use technology (sensor technology for example that have developed in the last five to ten years), and now becomes part of a greater concept and really works now and can really be put toward applications.
I would not see a revolution in this because we have the next steps. But if we put all the evolutions together and you look at it from a ten years time perspective from the future looking back, then it might look like a revolution, so both words will be right.
I think from now on we should live it like an evolution because that’s much more practical, I think, but from a point in the future, looking back it might pop up to be a revolution.
Question: How significant is the cloud and what are some exciting technologies in this area?
Sascha: Well of course talking about Industrie 4.0, you won’t get along without talking about the cloud. Maybe the cloud was not linked in the first place to industry, but now we see more and more how the cloud interferes with industrial applications, especially in the intralogistics.
There are already some good examples of how the cloud will change business, especially have new business models, because maybe when we look back already in 2014 on the CeMAT Show, we could see a big boost in the fleet management system of the forklift trucks.
And that was more or less maybe a beginning of cloud technology because if you have all the data, from all the forkflifts working on a certain area, of course you can get more information out of it than any single truck.
Now-a-days, big logistics warehouses also deliver their data to the cloud and if you compare now several warehouses from the cloud, you can easily see who’s doing good and who’s doing better. And of course, when we look to new business, maybe the idea is that the manufacturer of the equipment for the warehouse vendors can say “you are doing good but there is someone doing better, and I can give you some consultation on how to enhance your processes from looking at the data of the cloud.”
So we can make everyone a bit better if we put together all the data in what we call the cloud.