Industry 4.0 and the current status as well as future prospects on logistics

Industry 4.0, referred to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, also known as “smart manufacturing”, “industrial internet” or “integrated industry”, is currently a much-discussed topic that supposedly has the potential to affect entire industries by transforming the way goods are designed, manufactured, delivered and payed. This paper seeks to discuss the opportunities of Industry 4.0 in the context of logistics management, since implications are expected in this field. The authors pursue the goal of shedding light on the young and mostly undiscovered topic of Industry 4.0 in the context of logistics management, thus following a conceptual research approach. At first, a logistics-oriented Industry 4.0 application model as well as the core components of Industry 4.0 are presented. Different logistics scenarios illustrate potential implications in a practice-oriented manner and are discussed with industrial experts. The studies reveal opportunities in terms of decentralisation, self-regulation and efficiency. Moreover, it becomes apparent that the concept of Industry 4.0 still lacks a clear understanding and is not fully established in practice yet. The investigations demonstrate potential Industry 4.0 implications in the context of Just-in-Time/Just-in-Sequence and cross-company Kanban systems in a precise manner. Practitioners could use the described scenarios as a reference to foster their own Industry 4.0 initiatives, with respect to logistics management.

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As production planning is crucial in JIT/JIS systems, the increasing use of Auto-ID technologies has the potential to facilitate production planning or even make it futile (step 1). With respect to the coordination between supply chain actors, cloud or distributed ledger technology might enable the creation of a virtual ERP system for the whole supply chain, so that all actors can share and act upon the same information. Bullwhip effects may therefore be avoided or reduced (steps 2 & 3). Moreover, transport processes, which are also highly important in JIT/JIS so as to ensure delivery at the right time, might be coordinated in an end-to-end fashion across the whole supply chain (step 4). In conclusion, Industry 4.0 provides the opportunity to improve JIT/JIS systems, since it may enable actors to exchange and act upon real-time information in a coordinated end-to-end fashion. ..

Industry 4.0 will enable an increasingly automated, decentralised and more accurate demand planning and forecasting in JIT/JIS systems, since material consumption and material flows – e.g. inbound and outbound flows – can be tracked precisely and close to real time through the use of CPS and Auto-ID systems

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