Intralogistics is today’s top buzzword in manufacturing and warehousing — but in some cases, buzzwords live up to the hype.
Different companies define “intralogistics” in different ways, but the core concept is always similar. In short, intralogistics refers to optimization and automation of every piece of information within a distribution center or warehouse. It takes the lean methodology to its logical extreme; by implementing new methods of connection and interaction, intralogistics allows information (and materials) to flow as efficiently as possible.
That’s the aspiration, anyway. For warehousing professionals, practicing intralogistics can present challenges — or highlight challenges that might not have been recognized with a different approach. That’s not a reason to shy away from the trend, however; intralogistics has numerous tangible benefits for every warehouse.
Some reasons to adopt intralogistics:
- Intralogistics reduces warehousing costs. The most obvious reason to implement intralogistics: Better efficiency means less overstock, fewer wasted man-hours, a better product time-to-market, and lower costs overall.
By focusing on data collection and automation, warehouses can see the long-promised benefits of Industry 4.0 through better interconnectivity. Real-time data provides for real-time adjustments, so warehouses can become more nimble and efficient, regardless of how markets change.
- Intralogistics improves flexibility. Warehouses that focus on intralogistics can implement new automation strategies easily — and more importantly, these operations will get a better ROI from major equipment purchases. IIoT equipment provides data on usage and efficiency, which can fit neatly into the overall flow of intralogistic information.
In other words, companies that practice intralogistics will actually use the data created by high-tech machinery, and over time, that data will allow for near-perfect supply chain management. When a facility’s internal supply chain is perfect (or close to perfect), it’s naturally flexible to changes in demand.
- Intralogistics future-proofs your operation. Micro-fulfillment is here to stay, and warehouses that use an intralogistic approach are positioned to take advantage of that trend. By automating key processes and improving overall operational agility, intralogistic warehouses can function as micro-fulfillment centers without disrupting their primary operations.
We addressed some of the technologies driving intralogistics in our article on 2021 micro-fulfillment trends. IIoT-equipped material handling solutions play a major role, as products like the IIoT-Integrated Operator Aboard Battery Extractor (BE-IIOT) and IIoT Will Call Dropbox improve industrial data collection and allow for fast optimization.
- Intralogistics allows for a safer workplace. One of the goals of intralogistics is to automate anything that doesn’t require an employee, including potentially dangerous tasks.
Of course, human workers will always be the most important component of a well-run facility, and the goal isn’t to replace personnel. Instead, intralogistics allows workers to work as efficiently as possible by removing unnecessary hurdles.
Workplace safety and human efficiency go hand-in-hand. Tilt Tables and Lift Tables might optimize workflows while eliminating ergonomic risks, while Operator Aboard Battery Extractors deliver crucial information about lift truck fleets while prioritizing worker safety.
The key component of a great intralogistics strategy is data collection. That requires adoption of Industry 4.0 and IIoT tools, but it also requires careful observation of your workforce. Intralogistics is more about controlling the flow of communication than adopting the right technology (though the appropriate technology makes information collection much easier).
Implementing Intralogistics in Your Warehouse: Where to Start
By considering every single element of how your warehouse functions — and asking the simple question, “how could we do this better?” — you’ll be able to highlight the information you need and create a safer, more productive operation.
Intralogistics requires appropriate equipment, and in our article on in-plant logistics and material handling efficiency, we covered a few fundamental concepts that employers should consider when choosing equipment to automate or optimize their workflows. We’ve also written about the Plan For Every Part (PFEP) material flow, which is crucial to intralogistics adoption.
Overall, intralogistics is a simple concept, but every warehouse needs to strategize carefully to find inefficiencies and promote better communication and connectivity. By using the resources above — and understanding how your warehouse can see real-world benefits from intralogistics — your operation can take the first crucial steps towards better efficiency and throughput.
Do you have questions about improving warehouse productivity with ergonomic material handling equipment? Contact the BHS sales team at 1.800.BHS.9500.