Resilience in the supply chain – a how-to for companies

Heidelberg - 28.9.2017

“Resilience in the Supply Chain – Efficiently Shaping Agile Customer Needs” was the motto of this year’s event about future-proof and resilient supply chains in times of change, presented by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h. c. Karl-Heinz Wehking at io-consultants in Heidelberg, on 26 September 2017. Professor Wehking, who is head of the Institute of Mechanical Handling and Logistics (IFT) at the University of Stuttgart, was joined by six experts from business and scientific backgrounds to share experiences and challenges and provide insights into concrete new solutions. More than 90 participants listened and joined the discussion of how companies can maintain and develop functional logistics networks and guarantee smooth production and customer supply, even in challenging periods of change.

Future-relevant issues such as networking, digitalisation, and employee qualification were some of the hot topics. It also became clear that the subject of resilient supply chains is an item on everyone’s agenda. And although this comes with a number of unanswered questions, the industry is alive with ideas.

Game-changers and their impact on the resilience of the aftermarket supply chain in the automobile industry were examined by Bernd Fischer, branch manager at Volkswagen Original Teile Logistik GmbH & Co. KG (OTLG). Fischer named electromobility and the trend towards individualisation as significant influential factors. In view of the rise in unforeseeable events resulting, among others, from a changing political environment, he emphasized the importance of change management and of making resilience measurable.

Sven Müller, head of warehouse logistics at TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG, gave a detailed account of how he and his team planned and implemented a new central warehouse for worldwide end user supplies – from the initial idea through to implementation. The project took various expansion options into consideration to provide high levels of flexibility and secure resilience in the future. TRUMPF is also focussing on fully paperless processes at its warehouse in Ditzingen.

Coming from a different angle, Mark Lührs, European warehouse logistics manager at Robert Bosch GmbH, talked about implementing successful solutions during regular operation in order to carry a business safely into the future. The company has implemented highly automated, state-of-the-art solutions at its site in Karlsruhe. One example is the smart packing area, where items are efficiently packed with the aid of a camera solution. Image recognition has eliminated the scanning process, resulting in significantly lower error rates.

Representatives from two automobile companies explored the human factor in resilience-related issues. Wilfried Ständer, department manager at BMW AG, gave a presentation on change management in a major logistical project, the newbuild at BMW’s Dingolfing site. In order to ‘include’ new staff as well as employees who had decades of experience working in one and the same place, the company focussed on transparency across all levels and comprehensive activity monitoring.

Dr. Uwe Jens Unger, head of personnel at MAN Truck & Bus AG, examined the challenges and opportunities of global employee development for production and logistics that have resulted from the technological shifts in recent years. At MAN, so-called Future Labs represent new work environments with which the company wants to attract young people in particular. With their flexible space designs, the Future Labs create agile working conditions. Dr. Unger appealed to the audience to embrace the technology shift, which he sees as a huge challenge, wholeheartedly and with an open mind.
“Trends and developments in logistics – technology, more technology, and then what?” was the question asked by Professor Dr. Kai Furmans, head of the Institute for Material Handling and Logistics at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Furmans, a leading scientist in his field, showed that resilience and technology can by all means go hand in hand. One imminent trend that the researchers at KIT and IFT are currently engaging in is smart forklift trucks.

Picavi and Topsystem drew a lot of interest at the event with their technical solutions. The two companies, who both work in close partnership with io-consultants, contributed practical aspects to the agenda by demonstrating their Pick-by-Vision und Pick-by-Voice solutions.

“We wanted this event to generate food for thought, provide new insights, and offer a forum for discussions and networking within the logistics industry,” commented Thomas Kilimann, Managing Director and partner at io-consultants. “Looking back at the presentations and the discussions during and after the event, I’d say we did precisely that.”
io-consultants will continue this series of events next year.


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Nathalie Müller Marketing & Public Relations Phone: +49 (0) 62 21 / 379-241