We are often asked to define intralogistics. “What is intralogistics?” people ask, “and how does it relates to fulfillment and distribution center design?” The first time I used the term intralogistics to explain what I do was several years ago. I was speaking to an audience at the time about intralogistics systems integration and didn’t define the meaning of intralogistics to the rightfully bewildered group. Subsequently, they had to research the term, before coming back and telling me all the things they thought intralogistics was. Not surprisingly, they came back more confused than when they started.
Sometimes the best place to start in learning about something is in understanding what it’s not:
Intralogistics isn’t something you can get from your local material handling equipment dealership rebranded as an “Intralogistics Dealer.” It can’t be acquired in a big box store type setting where one might shop for casters, trucks, conveyors, and software from different vendors. It doesn’t come in those one-size-fits-all solutions often offered by component manufacturers or from the canned solutions some WMS suppliers try to push. It isn’t available from that would-be “systems integrator” who goes out and buys disparate controls, software, and hardware and then tries to bend them to meet your fulfillment needs. And it certainly isn’t something offered by a consultant who makes recommendations on your distribution center design, only to turn his back on you when it comes time to go out into the world and acquire the components from the material-handling marketplace.
As to what intralogistics is, here’s our definition of intralogistics:
Intralogistics is the art of optimizing, automating, integrating, and managing the logistical flow of material goods with the flow of information pertaining to those goods within the walls of a fulfillment center, distribution center, or warehouse. It can also encompass the logistical flow of materials within an entire supply chain, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to keep the focus between the walls of distribution and fulfillment center.
- Strategic planning and logistics design
- Process engineering and analysis
- Facilities design and automation
- Systems design, integration, and implementation
- Material handling technology (storage, conveyor, and sortation)
- Industrial, mechanical, and electrical engineering
- Information technology systems
- Project management
- PLC controls
- Software engineering, design, and development
- Database design and integration
- Warehouse and transportation management solutions
- Operational monitoring and analytical reporting
- Remote monitoring and technical support
Intralogistics systems in the forms of automated distribution and fulfillment centers often achieve leaps in operational productivity through the integration of information processing and material handling technologies that optimize fulfillment processes and better utilize both labor and equipment resources.
But it’s important to note that intralogistics solutions go beyond just using tools and material handling technologies to guide fulfillment center operators through specific tasks like receiving, picking, and shipping. They even go beyond the mechanization of processes such as storage and retrieval, packaging, and sorting.
True intralogistics solutions utilize sophisticated database and warehouse execution software to ensure constant analysis of an operation, that is used to then regulate system performance in order to achieve the efficiencies of real automation.
So how does this relate to our business and our customers?
Well, as you’ve most likely guessed from our company name, intralogistics is what we do. And as for what that means to our customers: Simply put, it means reliability and accuracy in warehouse management, warehouse control, order fulfillment, and transportation management. It means greater throughput at lower per unit costs. It means peace of mind in knowing you can keep pace with production demands for years to come. And it means leaner, more adaptable, more productive, and more profitable distribution center and fulfillment center enterprises.
Here is an example intralogistics at work: