Intelligent supply chains are highly adaptable, allow external business partners to collaborate easily, and generate data that facilitates proactive decision-making. This was clearly illustrated by the IT and logistics experts who attended the Supply Chain Forum on March 3, 2021 – hosted by the specialists at Siemens Digital Logistics for the first time as a purely digital industry meetup. A large group of participants from 16 countries came together virtually for presentations and networking.
Merging manufacturing and logistics
“It’s about creating a virtual map of the physical supply chain and fishing the right information out of the data lake,” remarked Christian Titze, VP Analyst at the consulting firm Gartner. Titze sees the digital supply chain embedded in an intelligent data platform that serves as a modern ecosystem integrating external partners, processes, and technologies. Such systems ensure end-to-end visibility and, combined with tools such as the digital supply chain twin, enable predictive planning. Logistics customers also want the kind of transparent shipping process we all know from the B2C sector, Titze made clear. Open IT architectures of this type facilitate deep horizontal integration, as Ioannis Stavridis, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Siemens Digital Logistics, outlined in his subsequent presentation. This yields valuable insights and lays the foundation for businesses to make cross-divisional decisions.
The complete digital model of reality – of everyday operations in logistics – is part of the winning strategy used by the winner of the German Logistics Award 2020: dm-drogerie markt. “Today, we can ensure pallet-precise delivery for any store layout, and employees no longer need to walk long distances,” said dm logistics manager Michael Gräf, who presented dm’s winning concept at the forum.
For Maximilian Weigelt, a key criterion of intelligent logistics is the ability to consolidate information from various sources and offer precise projections of delivery dates. Weigelt, Business Development Director DACH at Ocean Insights, explained how the interaction between a specially developed algorithm from Ocean Insights and the AX4 logistics platform from Siemens Digital Logistics enables the real-time positioning of containers.
Having all data in a single solution was also the impetus for logistics company Gebrüder Weiss to enter the world of digital logistics and develop the online portal myGW, which consolidates all data and workflows of the entire service portfolio in 11 languages and for 14 countries. “Today, we combine both: operational excellence and digital expertise,” emphasized Wolfgang Brunner, Head of Project & Portal Management for Corporate Logistics at the Austrian transport and logistics company.
The human factor
The digital revolution is sweeping the industry, automating and standardizing logistics processes in its wake – but there is still much to be done. “Only six percent of logistics companies currently have complete visibility of their supply chain,” explained Theo Quick, Global Deputy Industry Head of Retail, Transport & Logistics at IT service provider Atos.
The human factor is still the regulating factor in digital technology, according to Dr. Thomas Krupp, professor at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. “There is still too much paper and friction in logistics processes,” Krupp noted. Companies must also have the desire to use digital tools. And that is primarily a question of psychology, not technology. “All roles, all levels of personnel must be involved in change management,” Krupp remarked. “Because at the end of the day, there has to be someone who actually moves the goods.”
Volker Kirchgeorg, CEO of Siemens Digital Logistics, was very pleased with the event: “The first virtual Supply Chain Forum was a complete success for us. We develop and implement innovative digital logistics solutions for our customers, so it makes sense to bring new concepts to our events as well. We are planning hybrid event concepts for the future to facilitate access to leading experts and thought leaders, especially for our international partners and customers.”