Around the world, the global pandemic made manufacturers realize the importance of an uncomplicated supply chain. E-commerce skyrocketed and strained the supply chain, and entrepreneurs turned to direct marketing to launch new products, which fragmented the market and led to a rise in the number of distinct goods. This gave consumers a lot to choose from and manufacturers a vast information flow to manage, making the supply chain complicated. With various raw materials and end products being moved, conveyed, and stored at different stages of the supply chain, intralogistics becomes an essential part of the food business.
Simply put, intralogistics is the management of operations (“logistics”) within (“intra”) a warehouse. It can be understood as being the “inside logistics” of a company. It includes optimizing warehouse aspects like planning and movement of materials and information inside a distribution center or warehouse, from the moment of arrival at the dock door to when it is picked, packed, and shipped.
The importance of logistics in warehousing
The basic concept of intralogistics is to optimize and automate each piece of information within a warehouse or a distribution center. By utilizing new methods to connect and interact, intralogistics allows materials to flow efficiently. Some reasons that push manufacturers to adopt intralogistics are discussed below.
When warehouses adopt intralogistics, they can implement automation easily and can get a better return on investment from major equipment purchases. Data on efficiency and usage obtained from Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) equipment can fit into the intralogistics information flow. The data obtained is used, making the supply chain nearly perfect, and allowing greater flexibility to demand changes.
Safety of workplace
Intralogistics allows the automation of potentially dangerous tasks, allowing worker safety and removing unnecessary hurdles. The goal is not to remove human workers, as they are the most important part of any facility, but to improve their efficiency.
Intralogistics allows better efficiency, lesser wastage of man-hours, less overstock, and overall cost reduction. Through better interconnectivity, warehouses can reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 if they focus on data collection and automation. Warehouses can increase their efficacy with real-time data leading to real-time adjustments.
Making operations future-ready
Warehouses that use intralogistics have the capability to implement key trends such as micro fulfillment. Micro-fulfillment refers to using localized, small storage and fulfillment areas close to the end customer. This helps reduce shipping costs and delivery times. Intralogistics warehouses can function as micro-fulfillment centers by automating the main processes and improving overall operations without impacting the key operations.
Intralogistics challenges faced by the manufacturers
At present, there is a boom in the eCommerce sector, which puts a lot of pressure in the form of time to market, speed, and better utilization of the space for the warehouses. Same-day delivery demands are replacing two-day delivery. Manufacturers also face issues like changes or disruptions in technologies in the form of digitalization, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The following disruptive changes put pressure on today’s logistics and intralogistics operations
Sustainability- renewable energies, CO2 neutral, waste reduction
New technologies- artificial intelligence, robotics, digitalization
E-commerce boom- highly competitive pressure, shortage of space, need for space
Need for resilience-COVID 19, increasing protectionism, avoiding standstill
Performance Efficiency and Safety in food intralogistics
In the food industry, logistical processes demand particularly high technical requirements. Additionally, the strict hygiene standards in the industry pose a challenge in implementing various intralogistics activities. It is important to keep operating costs low while making sure that industrial trucks are top performers and prevent contamination. Performance efficiency and safety are the key requirements for intralogistics in the food industry. These are discussed below.
Functioning in extreme usage conditions
Warehouse equipment should be able to function in extreme temperatures to transport perishable products like fish and meat. Industrial trucks used in cold stores are designed to operate at low temperatures to work optimally without any failures. Thus, refrigerated and deep-freeze warehouses have modified equipment that is made for use in specific conditions.
Technical failures in the food industry can gravely impact perishable foods, leading to serious consequences. Hence, technical performance data of industrial trucks is important, focusing on aspects like speed, lifting height, and lifting capacity. They should perform well even with a full load.
Strict hygiene standards
Cleaning industrial trucks is important to maintain hygiene in the production and warehouse areas. Some examples of unique truck designs for the food industry include treatment with special alloys to prevent corrosion and waterproof insulation in lines and cables to enable steam jet cleaning. Food-safe, special hydraulic liquids called H1 lubricants are certified for use in production areas and are harmless to health. They are not temperature sensitive and thus can be used in deep freeze and refrigerated warehouses. Industrial trucks used in the food industry are equipped with special white clean tyres to prevent contamination from unwanted substances as they do not leave traces of wear on the ground.
Accident prevention, safety, and visibility
The safety and visibility of industrial trucks used in the food industry are important aspects of intralogistics. Any mishap can lead to contamination of the foods being transported. A high volume of goods may impact the operator’s field of vision. Thus, companies opt for trucks with clear visibility to prevent accidents, facilitated by camera systems, panoramic mirrors, and a raised or offset operator’s seat. A clear view of the load improves worker speed and operational safety through a slim mast and smartly arranged to lift cylinders. Equipping forklift trucks with restraint systems is helpful if an accident occurs. They prevent the driver from falling off, getting thrown out, or being crushed by the truck.
Employing more than 1.5 million people, the food industry is the largest in the world. It rests on the foundation of complex interactions between companies that help to feed the world. Producing, storing, and transporting food is an inevitable part of the industry. Managing this supply chain requires highly advanced intralogistics that help streamline the process. Automation and optimization of the food intralogistics sector are inevitable in the future.