Transparent and networked logistics processes allow requirements to be better planned, delivery routes to be optimized and stock levels to be significantly reduced. Increasing efficiency and flexibility is the result of all efforts in the context of Logistics 4.0. But how far have companies really come in this process so far and what challenges do companies face today on the way to realizing Logistics 4.0?

Aviation 4.0: Intelligent logistics for a networked aviation revolution

Logistics 4.0 in the aviation industry represents a transformative era in which cutting-edge technologies are permeating the entire aviation logistics value chain. From the procurement of aircraft parts to warehousing and flight operations, the integration of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced data analytics is bringing significant improvements and efficiency gains.

In the area of procurement, Logistics 4.0 Aviation enables precise monitoring of supply chains through IoT sensors, providing real-time information on the availability, stock levels and condition of aircraft parts. This not only helps to minimize downtime during maintenance work, but also enables more accurate planning and inventory management.

The optimization of warehouse and logistics processes is being driven by the use of autonomous vehicles and robotics. Smart warehouses connected by IoT enable efficient storage and picking of spare parts. AI-driven analyses optimize routes for the transport of goods and improve the efficiency of logistics chains in air traffic.

The digitalization of aircraft themselves, including predictive maintenance and smart data, enables proactive maintenance that minimizes downtime and improves safety. Logistics 4.0 in aviation goes beyond physical transportation and integrates data to increase the efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of the entire industry. It is a key component for the future development of an intelligent and connected aviation industry.

Transparent processes enable efficient supply chains.
Transparency improves decision-making

Challenges in Supply Chain Management

Globalization opens up opportunities for numerous companies to expand their markets and enables promising collaborations. However, there are two sides to this coin: with the opening up of international markets, competitive pressure is also increasing. Today more than ever, companies have to adapt to frequent fluctuations in demand, constantly shortening product life cycles and declining customer loyalty. The demands on production processes, including internal logistics, are becoming more complex. But this is the crux of the matter, as many companies are not yet sufficiently prepared for this change. The main problem in internal logistics is often a lack of transparency, as there is often no overview of the current order status or internal transportation is carried out without central control. 

Another problem is the rigidity of the processes. If a machine problem occurs at one point in a production plant, for example, this information must first pass a local fixed point from which the data is then passed on to production management, which then issues instructions for action. This is a time-consuming process that is inflexible, cost-intensive and time-consuming, as all subsequent processes are delayed. One consequence of this process rigidity is that delivery times to the end customer are not met, which may result in the loss of an order.

Big Data, Internet of Things, Digital Twins

On the path to supply chain excellence, the goal of these companies should be to increase their responsiveness to unexpected events in internal production and logistics and to avoid empty runs. Maximizing resource utilization, minimizing throughput times and placing products on the market successfully and on time are some of the economic goals that will ensure a company’s continued existence in the century of globalization.

Big data is the keyword in this context. It means nothing other than the collection, storage and evaluation of real-time data in large quantities. However, this method is only efficient if the data is collected and evaluated in a targeted manner. As much as big data can be used profitably, the discussions on this topic are controversial. Due to a lack of IT security, companies fear that they will lose business secrets and knowledge to the competition as a result of this networking.

This real-time data also plays a role in the topic of the Internet of Things (IoT). While the classic Internet moves in the virtual world, IoT enables the networking of physical objects with virtual channels and creates collaboration through a wide variety of information and communication technologies. Simply put, the networking of the virtual world with everyday objects or technical refinements. Applied to industry, this results, for example, in objects that are equipped with sensors that feed the current physical state as information into a cloud. In addition to real-time monitoring of transport vehicles, e.g. by means of the ADAC breakdown prevention service, the transported goods can also be monitored. This makes it possible, for example, to monitor temperatures during transports and to pass on deviations from the target status directly to the responsible department. The resulting immediate regulation prevents negative effects on the goods and delivery. The IoT also enables inventories to be captured by “intelligent” shelves and, if necessary, repeat orders to be triggered automatically. If transports can be planned in real time and the production management has an overview of where each transport order is at any time, data and information can be obtained that can be used to optimize logistical key figures such as delivery reliability and time and to ensure competitiveness.

The Internet of Things is the preliminary stage of the so-called Digital Twins. They make it possible to duplicate physical objects and systems from the real world and to create a virtual twin. While the real system state remains untouched at first, changes and various scenarios can be tested and carried out on the virtual image, on the “digital twin”. This enables different perspectives on the real twin and allows realistic forecasts and analyses. Thanks to the resulting results and findings, it is possible to determine at an early stage where adjustments need to be made. Particularly in logistics, the material flow can be simulated thanks to Digital Twins and allows the utilisation of logistical processes to be visualised in real time and optimised accordingly.

Everyday work in times of logistics 4.0

The working environment and the tasks of employees will also change with the transition to Logistics 4.0. In the future, cognitive systems within production lines will ensure that individual system components communicate independently with each other and recognize and solve problems that arise. The degree of automation in production and logistics is constantly increasing.

This smart technology should also be able to learn process sequences, recognize recurring patterns and derive recommendations for action that ultimately improve logistics processes. Despite all the automation, logistics specialists will continue to be indispensable in the future. The monitoring of complex processes, the programming of new systems and the evaluation of the recorded data are still in human hands.

Machines and systems must be regularly checked and maintained. Security checks, especially in the context of data security, will be of enormous importance in the next few years as digitalization progresses.

Even if all these statements, concepts and goals sound like dreams of the future, companies should still be concerned now with the challenges and opportunities of Logistics 4.0. They can already make their company fit for the future and prepare it for the trends and requirements of a digitalized business world. This includes, among other things, dealing with critical success factors in logistics structures and processes, as well as the selection of suppliers and the use of communication and information technology. The faster the exchange of information between the partners in the supply chain takes place, the faster it is possible to react to customer requirements.

Sustainable with the right expertise

The implementation of necessary changes is often complicated by internal or entrenched structures. Where does further development begin, what expertise is required, what does the change mean for entrepreneurs and employees?

These are questions that need to be considered and answered individually. ARTS is happy to support you with its expertise in preparing your logistics processes for the age of Industry 4.0 and, as your partner, can take over entire processes or sub-steps in the area of logistics & supply chain management on request. If your needs are in the area of aerospace consulting, we will also be happy to support you with our know-how.