Technology and Process Innovations in Logistics

In the course of world-wide globalization, companies have been trying to realize cost benefits by internationalizing their supply chains, i.e. by outsourcing the production of labour-intensive parts to low-wage countries and solely assembling these parts in their home factories. As a result of this development, logistics has been one of the emerging industrial sectors over the past decades.

Since the expected economic growth and the anticipated future volumes will most likely exceeded existing infrastructure capacities, logisticians search for effective measures to reduce the use of capacity and reach a higher degree of efficiency. The multitude of human interaction and decision making in logistics offers the possibility to automate processes, reduce throughput times and disburden the logistics companies. Innovations in technology as well as in processes can ensure a company's business competitiveness in the long term. Therefore, our research group develops technology-based and process-oriented concepts to enhance logistic performance and to enable logisticians to survive in global competition.

Projects

Situationally adequate lean implementation
 
RFID in Maritime Container Logistics
RFID technology in container transportation has often been criticized, because of the lack of suitable standards, wherefore a worldwide exploitation of RFID seems to be impossible. Transport chain participants are only willing to buy or develop an infrastructure for this technology, if the compatibility to other participants’ RFID hardware is guaranteed and they do not run the risk of implementing the infrastructure twice or more. The availability of RFID-ISO norms (license plate, shipment tag, eSeal) makes it possible for all supply chain partners to implement their hardware based on these standards.
Multi-Agent-based Decision Automation in Maritime Container Logistics
Decision-making concerning a container’s next transport step provides the opportunity for automation. Today, choosing a container’s transport vehicle, route, time, and price is a manual, human decision process. Fast changing conditions in the market, globally acting supply chains and permanently growing transport volumes have extensive effects on the planning and control of logistic processes. The dynamic and broad branching of transport chains leads to an increasing amount of possible transport passages and thus an increased amount of information. This complicates the information supply to central decision instances and impedes human decision processes that cannot take into account all options. In order to manage this problem, central systems (i.e. central decision), are not appropriate for the future. Thus, a new control paradigm for logistic processes, concentrating on dynamic decentralized autonomous decisions instead of central control, is required. This paradigm shifts central planning to many decentralized logistic objects, i.e. to containers and transport vehicles.