During the six months of the project, we had the opportunity to visit various events and facilities related to IT & logistics – the presentations we heard, the applications we could see, and the discussions we had.
Day of Logistics 2015
For one day all companies and research institutes related to Logistics opened their doors for visitors all around Germany. We took this chance to get to know the field a bit better: We went to UBIMAX to try out applications of Google Glass, to DB Schenker Logistics to find out more about the impact of Industry 4.0, and attended numerous talks about the current developments at the BIBA Research center for logistics at the university of Bremen. We learned that it is quite hard for logistics companies to find young bloods.
First Bremen Congress on Industry 4.0
One day promoted under the buzzword of industry 4.0 provided input on the potentials and challenges of the new industrial revolution for producers. It involved scientific and economic presentations on the various aspects and impacts of digitization. As well as workshops on how to implement lean management in ones workflow. As the focus was not on logistics but rather on production this event just gave insight on how the producing industry is approaching the changes in the market.
BIBA Research Center for Logistics
We invited Mrs. Aleksandra Himstedt, scientific researcher for logistics applications, for a discussion about her work and efforts at BIBA to address logistics companies regarding innovation matters. We learned that approaching small and medium logistics businesses can be quite challenging as their precious time is usually consumed by their services. Thus the awareness or attention for innovation topics is limited to those situations when customers or system regulations demand a certain change of their business strategy. The mindset of the majority of SME’s is: Never change a running system as long you don’t have to.
3D printing at FabLab Bremen
For an afternoon we could try out the different prototyping techniques at the FabLab: We learnt a lot about 3D printing, laser cutting and modeling, designed and even printed our own constructions. It was great to get our hands on the possibilities of this disruptive technology.
North Sea Terminal Bremerhaven
We were invited to a tour around the NTB, Germany’s second biggest container terminal. On a cruise by car around the site we experienced the vast dimensions of the quay that spreads over 5km along the coastline. It was very impressive to see the ballet of the van carriers that bring the containers to and from the gate cranes. Every single information about location and destination of thousands of boxes is co-ordinated by a well-organized software.
Interviews with IT & Logistics companies
We went all around the city of Bremen and the harbor to talk to CEOs and project developers at companies involved in transport solutions, supply-chain-management and IT applications for logistics. This gave us a broad overview about the connections and potentials of IT and logistics. Both services are mostly invisible to the public eye – only when things don’t work according to plan, people become aware of logistic or IT systems. We found that their processes actually don’t work all that differently and they have a lot in common.
But sometimes we felt a tension between the two parties that shows misconceptions due to a lack of knowledge of the others field of work. Logistics people are afraid IT want to sell them solutions even if they don’t actually solve a problem. On the other hand IT state that logistics people are often not able to formulate their needs or are too occupied in their running system to see the benefits of investment in a digitized future. So it would be necessary to create a platform for them where they could exchange their expectations and wishes for future collaborations.