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Where does the future lie for intralogistics?

Where does the future lie for intralogistics?

The coronavirus has had the world firmly in its grasp since the beginning of 2020. As shown by the latest DHL Global Connectedness Index 2020 (GCI), the pandemic has radically changed the state of globalisation as well as international trade flows. These changes have had, and will continue to have, a huge impact on the logistics industry, particularly on intralogistics. At the end of 2020, CIM GmbH asked a few of their field sales team what they saw as the biggest trends of 2020 and what they think is in the pipeline for 2021 – their answers point to exciting times ahead.

What do you see as the main trend or market development in the intralogistics sector in 2020?

Maarten Janssen (logistics consulting): The main logistics trend in my mind was the strong growth of e-commerce. The coronavirus has fuelled a very noticeable shift in the market away from traditional, stationary retail towards online retail. Since online retail is much more dynamic than stationary retail, there are a number of consequences for warehouse management:  processes need to be digitalised today rather than tomorrow. And these processes need to be flexible and quickly adaptable to make the difference between success and failure in the future.

Kilian Küsters (logistics consulting): By the same token, I’ve noticed a move away from e-commerce in the food and grocery market. There’s been a return to regional and local retail. In terms of logistics, this means smaller warehouses, shorter supply chains and greater product flexibility – promoting seasonal products, for example.

Christian Assmann (key account management): To pick up on the subject of supply chains, a lot of companies have shifted from having one central, often international supplier to working with multiple regional or national suppliers. There are fewer instances of buying in bulk in order to secure a discount; instead, supply chains are being diversified to provide delivery reliability in the long term. Warehouse and transport management software needs to provide optimal management of these different suppliers, guarantee replenishment and also provide a function for rating suppliers.

The coronavirus also had a profound impact on the intralogistics sector in 2020. Many digitalisation processes have been accelerated by the pandemic. What do you see as the main developments in this respect? And which of these changes are here to stay?

Maarten Janssen (logistics consulting): For many companies, 2020 has highlighted the importance of having processes that are digitalised, transparent and flexible. The intralogistics sector was already on the right path in this respect and software-controlled warehouse management is definitely here to stay. I think it’s more a question of which new technologies can optimise processes in the future – artificial intelligence, for example. We’re currently working at CIM on intelligent optimisation of stock putaway. 

Birgit Lippl-Bauer (logistics consulting): As a WMS provider, our way of working changed massively in 2020 especially with regard to consulting and project management. There was a huge surge in virtual communication: Consulting appointments, training courses, and in some cases even entire software implementations were carried out virtually or remotely. I don't think this will be a long-term trend as far as consulting is concerned, since online appointments are not an adequate replacement for face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers. But I do see a lasting change in terms of project management. Online training and remote testing save our customers time and money otherwise spent on travelling, for example, and so also make sense from an environmental point of view.

Where does the future lie for intralogistics? If you could look into a crystal ball: Which do you think will be the main topics and trends shaping logistics in 2021?

Kilian Küsters (logistics consulting): I’m pretty sure that the trend towards digital workflows will continue along the entire supply chain. The trend in smaller companies towards WMS implementation or digital process optimisation is not likely to change either. In large and medium-sized companies, we’ve already been seeing an increasing shift towards automation. Automated warehouses are likely to play a major role in 2021.

Maarten Janssen (logistics consulting): We all hope that corona will have less of an impact in 2021. After the economic dip of 2020, I would expect to see an increased demand for intralogistics solutions, which means lots of interesting projects coming up. It’s definitely going to pay off for WMS providers to take a broad-based approach and expand their international visibility. I also see a trend towards insourcing, especially in production. Many companies have been sensitised by the supply bottlenecks from China and have started moving their production back to Europe. They’ll hopefully realise the benefits of an integrated warehouse and production management system – like PROLAG®World.



Birgit Lippl-Bauer

Birgit has been a logistics consultant at CIM GmbH for the past 16 years. She is mainly responsible for managing the tender process.

Christian Assmann

Christian is responsible for looking after our key accounts in Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Kilian Küsters

Kilian has worked in the logistics sector for a number of years, including a spell as a site manager.
He joined the consulting team at CIM GmbH in 2019.

Maarten Janssen

Maarten manages the Netherlands branch of CIM and is the point of contact for our customers in the Benelux countries.