Logistics 4.0: The digitalization of logistics creates new opportunities

The transport and logistics industry is changing. Platooning, Big Data, Cloud Computing, algorithms – all these are catchwords that show: Those who work today as they did ten years ago will sooner or later lose touch. Rarely before has there been a topic that has occupied the entire industry as much as “digitalisation”. This has serious consequences for the logistics industry, especially with regard to the speed, flexibility and controllability of its processes. Against this background, Logistics 4.0 is becoming increasingly important for companies that want to position themselves successfully in the market. But what exactly does Logistics 4.0 actually mean? In this article you will find out.

The term “Logistics 4.0” describes in a broader sense the effects of Industry 4.0 on the field of transport and logistics. It also deals with the support and co-design of digitalization and automation through cross-company and cross-functional coordination tasks of logistics.

Logistics 4.0 in the narrower sense means the networking and integration of logistical processes within and outside of trading and production companies up to the decentralized real-time control of logistical networks. Corresponding solutions include Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), which consist of embedded systems connected to each other via communication networks. Man and material act as “end points”. Other components include assistance systems such as devices with autonomous intelligence and decision-making capabilities such as cameras, detectors and self-propelled cars.

Packages on a computer boardThe digital transformation, especially the networking of logistical processes, provides more transparency in the supply and dispatch chains and thus better supply chain management. Digitalization and automation thus lead to more efficient processes along the entire supply chain. In the long term, the cargo itself could also become intelligent and organise its transport independently.

The goals of Logistics 4.0 are the automation and optimization of material flows and the use of resources in inbound and outbound logistics. This will lead to an interactive flexibilization of business models, processes and partner networks, both as a prerequisite and as a result of digitization.

Without logistics 4.0 no industry 4.0

Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, is on everyone’s lips. While mechanisation (Industry 1.0), mass production (Industry 2.0) and automation (Industry 3.0) have made their way into production over the years, digitalisation is now following. This refers to the Internet of things and digital services. It offers excellent growth opportunities and competitive advantages for companies that are not immune to the new technologies and innovations associated with it. According to forecasts, digital transformation and automation can increase productivity by around 30 percent.

Some of the central goals of the fourth industrial revolution can only be achieved through adapted logistics. These include the main features of Industry 4.0 such as networking, decentralization, real-time capability or service orientation.

Only by successfully introducing Logistics 4.0 can you create the necessary foundations for your company to master the future challenges of Industry 4.0. For example, paperless processing of transport orders with digital consignment notes or pallet exchange in the digital age are important basic requirements for a functioning Industry 4.0.

How does Logistics 4.0 work?

Logistics 4.0 is not planned just once and then maintained in the same form for all eternity.  It is constantly learning, constantly adapting to new requirements and is therefore continuously implemented.

The focus of Logistics 4.0 is on the use of new, innovative technologies, such as forecast-supported supply chain management, pricing based on machine learning or optimisations using artificial intelligence. These and other new technologies can be used, among other things, to optimize the following logistics key figures: Supply security, quality of the offer, flexibility of the offer, delivery capability and service level.

To achieve this, you must create and implement new concepts for planning, controlling, monitoring and implementing information and material flows in Logistics 4.0. All levels of your company logistics must be included in the digital transformation and suitable technologies for improvements must be identified.

Solutions for Logistics 4.0 are aimed equally at internal and external processes. For example, increasingly complex and global value chains and networks require completely new approaches to supply chain management in order to coordinate material and information flows from the raw material supplier to the customer more efficiently.


Daniel Mahnken
Daniel Mahnken is a Senior Corporate Communications Manager at Saloodo!. As a qualified journalist, writing is practically in his blood. After studying sports journalism, he wanted to become Germany’s Next Sports Commentator, but then he discovered logistics and has been stuck with it ever since.

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