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.
Transparent supply chains in industry can significantly increase efficiency and customer benefit. However, product traceability is currently very costly, or even impossible, as many parties are usually involved. In the food sector, for example, a lack of transparency can have health consequences if the cooling process in production or transport has been interrupted in the meantime. Blockchain as a new technology and driving force for digital transformation opens up transparency in logistics as well as in the supply chain and offers a common and tamper-proof data set. With the help of the distributed blockchain architecture, trust in the data can be established without a central instance.
Additive manufacturing processes have initiated a revolution in the manufacturing industry. However, the widespread use of additive manufacturing processes is hampered by high variable manufacturing costs as well as uncertainty among companies with regard to the qualification and comparability of additively manufactured components. So far, the use of the technologies has been strongly characterised by manual activities. To reduce manufacturing costs and ensure quality, industrialisation of the entire value-added process is necessary in order to map indirect effects and uncover optimisation potential.
Only six percent of the materials processed worldwide are recycled. The detachment from the “take-make-dispose” idea and the development towards a circular economy do not only serve as a relief for the environment, but also open up enormous saving potentials for companies. Nevertheless, the introduction of circular economy approaches which are reflected by closing product and material cycles and by reprocessing waste is hampered due to information asymmetries. As a result, the product information required for effective recycling is often not available. A blockchain-based digital twin offers potential for improving the flow of information. The aim of the project is to conceptualize digital twins based on the blockchain technology and to evaluate them regarding the benefits for supply chains in the circular economy.