Intralogistics planning

We offer bespoke advice so that you can find the right intralogistics concept.

Intralogistics – from concept to implementation

Standardization for driverless transport systems

The AGV (driverless transport system) has experienced a strong renaissance in recent years. Today’s concepts are easier to install, maintain and adapt than was the case in the past.

However, initial implementations in the automotive industry in the 1980s often did not bring the hoped-for successes. Due to the technological leap in terms of navigation, control and data transmission over the last 30-40 years, the AGVS is becoming increasingly relevant. 

In addition, the initially very high investment costs have fallen sharply in recent years, so that the implementation now often pays for itself after just a few years. The often high automation potential and the requirements for the flexibility of the planned system are decisive for the implementation in practice. But with or without AGVS, the focus must be on high-cost efficiency for the non-value-adding activities of intralogistics.

We will support you in developing the intralogistics concept

  • Process and weak point analysis
  • Means of transport and load carrier systems
  • Picking & provision concepts
  • Concept development (layout evaluation / optimization) (visTable)
  • Material flow analysis/material flow simulation PlantSim
  • An economic evaluation of the developed concepts
  • Traffic concept
  • Tender documents (specifications, etc.)

Intralogistic issues 

The framework of intralogistics is determined by the layout of the workplaces and the loading and unloading stations. This is where the first question arises: Does the layout still match my material flow? In practice, problems are often identified by hotspots where material accumulates or individual sections of the route are heavily frequented by industrial trucks. In addition to inefficiencies, this can also result in a safety risk: material is temporarily parked in aisles, which means that the original aisle width is no longer sufficient, and there are no longer any alternatives.

The following questions relate to the system suitable for production or logistics. For example, at what transport volume does it make sense to switch to conveyor technology? What framework conditions must be met for investments in automation to pay off? How can fluctuations in performance be covered without leading to high fluctuations in personnel requirements? 

Analyze and design material flow holistically

Our objectives

At ifp consulting, we see intralogistics as an essential support process that must be designed to be reliable, performance-based, efficient and future-proof. Because intralogistics means more than just technology and processes. It always depends on a coherent overall concept that considers all aspects of your company and allows them to flow into a comprehensive logistics plan.

In the first step of the intralogistics consultation, our specialists analyze the current situation and your goals together with you on-site and develop processes that are precisely tailored to your requirements. In doing so, we rely on data-based analyzes of operations and material flows, based on which we develop various intralogistics concepts for you. 

Standardization for driverless transport systems

Preparation of the processes

Interview with logistics experts Denise Pohlig and Miriam Menne – driverless transport systems as the material handling and transport process of the future.
What are the requirements?

Ms. Pohlig, developments in autonomous driving, camera systems, mobile communications, and GPS technology are causing the desire to introduce driverless transport systems (AGVs) to rise rapidly. Does automation also make sense in medium-sized companies?

You certainly have to look at that in a differentiated way. On the one hand, we are currently noticing, especially in the field of production in medium-sized companies, that companies are increasingly thinking about their dependency on staff availability and perceiving the potential for savings and the falling costs for the technical equipment of the AGVS. But, on the other hand, many companies are not ready yet, because the stability of upstream and downstream processes plays a vital role alongside standardization. If this preparation of the processes does not take place, or if it is too sketchy, then the potential of AGVS and automation in logistics are not fully used, and the often high expectations of employees and management cannot be met.

Ms. Menne, you have been on-site at the companies over the past few weeks to check the feasibility of an AGVS. What was your impression: How can companies participate in the progress of automation in the best possible way?                                                                                                                    

I can only agree with my colleague. If the prerequisites are not right, the optimization potential is manageable. Therefore, from our point of view, specific conceptual considerations must take place beforehand. First, the company can calculate the opportunity costs and also weigh up the need for automation. Second, we record the material transport processes for the customer, taking into account the properties of the materials to be transported, such as weight and dimensions. Not every material is suitable for transport by AGV. Using a corresponding review with the customer, we then decide which departments need to be brought on board and, ultimately, which type of AGVS should be considered.

How is the decision made for the right AGVS – is there a catalogue of criteria, or are the various manufacturers included in the selection process?

Both are possible and are taken into account in consecutive steps in the AGVS planning. First, we limit the AGVs in question using the ifp criteria catalogue and an analysis of the material flow and the material portfolio. For example, we investigate whether a pallet AGV or an AGV for small load carriers (KLTs) is best suited for the customer and which performance requirements the AGV should meet. The transport intensity, i.e. the number and volume of transports, is determined via the material flow analysis and the number of necessary systems is determined from this. In addition to the operational requirements for the AGV, we, of course, also integrate the information technology connection to the existing system into our analysis. We then usually contact and integrate different manufacturers in order to be able to plan a complete solution for our customers. Many of our customers do not consider at the beginning of the project that the control system and its connection to the existing system should not be disregarded in the AGVS planning and account for a considerable part of the costs.

Ms. Pohlig, you said at the beginning that the preparation of the processes is the decisive feature for a successful introduction of the driverless transport system. In what way?

When introducing an AGV, companies digitize part of their logistics processes. This is often the first point of contact for companies on the subject of “Industry 4.0”. A prerequisite for digitization is always a deep understanding of the process on the part of the executing project team to define the right solution for the company because an AGV solution is always individual.

In practice, at ifp consulting, we recognize time and time again that the focus is on production, especially in the medium-sized sector, and that logistical processes are not part of the company’s core competencies. Logistics is often a means to an end here. The level of standardization of the logistical processes is correspondingly low:

  • Responsibilities are not clearly regulated.
  • Transports are controlled organizationally and not via the system.
  • The machine operator also carries out some logistical activities.

As a result, there are usually no comprehensive process descriptions that are the basis of any process automation. In addition to the process definition, the degree of automation of the upstream and downstream processes is also decisive. Without automation during load transfer between the machine and AGV, the human factor is still necessary, making AGV projects more complex. The first thing to do here is to determine the appropriate scope of the solution using a TARGET process.

Perhaps we could be more precise: Where exactly are the savings potentials now?

As already mentioned, the standardization and improvement of logistics processes in the context of the introduction of AGVS are the drivers for operational excellence and standardization. An intensive examination of the operational company processes is a prerequisite for successfully introducing an AGVS. In addition, topics such as the standard number of parts and automation potentials are brought into focus by the project, and the future viability of the production system is automatically questioned.

The aim of introducing AGVS, however, is initially to reduce personnel costs. These are to be expected, particularly in the area of direct personnel costs. The independence from staff availability, which is a major challenge for many companies, especially outside the metropolitan regions, should also be assessed separately. Transport damage within the logistics chain can also often be reduced through the precise use of AGVs.

How do you both assess the situation in Germany? Will the use of driverless transport systems increase in the near future?

We are convinced of it. Lately we have noticed a significantly increased interest from our customers, especially in medium-sized companies. The technology has become widespread and is already widely accepted by the workforce. These are good prerequisites for using AGV solutions as automation and digitization drivers in companies and for leveraging their potential. Nevertheless, we should mention the extensive project planning effort at this point, which is necessary, especially with established structures, to ensure the successful implementation of AGV concepts.

Standardization for driverless transport systems
Preparation of the processes

Interview with logistics experts Denise Pohlig and Mirjam Menne – driverless transport systems as the material handling and transport process of the future. What are the requirements?

Interview about the driverless transport system with ifp consulting.
Denise Pohlig

Division management

Her focus is on mechanical and plant engineering, electronics and the automotive industry, where she has extensive expertise in the areas of operational excellence, digitization and production footprint.

Mirjam Menne

Division management

Her focus is on the pharmaceutical, electronics and aviation industries, where she has extensive expertise in the areas of strategy development, sustainable logistics systems and supply chain management.

Success factors

We think through the entire process chain and compare conventional and innovative solutions for you – because AGVS mean that autonomous driving is at least as exciting as the loading and unloading process. The aim is to find the right solution for your company through variants and process transparency and to develop a realistic intralogistics concept that suits your company.

What should you watch out for in the implementation?

  • Last but not least, other factors such as the information base and the information systems on which the transport orders are processed play a decisive role.
  • As an interface between process and materials management, intralogistics is a complex system and naturally under cost pressure.


Take away

With or without a driverless transport system, the focus must be on high cost-efficiency for non-value-adding activities in intralogistics.   

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