Paving the way to high-tech
LogiMAT – the International Trade Show for Distribution, Materials Handling, and Information Flow – is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and that’s “cause for a small celebration,” says director Peter Kazander, Managing Director of EUREXPO Messe- und Kongress-GmbH in Munich. “LogiMAT has been shaped by a decade and a half of technological developments – a period of rapid disruptions that has seen a virtually unprecedented surge in the role of intralogistics.”
Developments in information and communications technology, sensor technology, image acquisition, automation, and robotics in particular now represent a norm that only few could imagine when LogiMAT debuted in 2003. “The first LogiMAT at Stuttgart’s old convention center in Killesberg featured a heated debate about the introduction of RFID,” recalls Professor Michael ten Hompel, Managing Institute Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML). “The internet of things and Industry 4.0 were still just distant visions back then. Today, we hold in our hands the technology to realize the dreams of that era.” LogiMAT has consistently followed this trend over the years, notes Dr. ten Hompel. “And what’s more, it has become a platform for this transformation.”
In the 15 years since LogiMAT first opened its doors in 2003, the trade show has evolved from a regional event to Germany’s “and presumably Europe’s premier event for the area of intralogistics – or what I would also call technical logistics,” declares Professor Karl-Heinz Wehking of the IFT Institute for Conveyance Technology and Logistics at the University of Stuttgart.
“In its 15-year history, LogiMAT has grown to become a leading international trade show for logistics” in the view of Peter Altes, Managing Director of AIM-D e. V. And with its focus on forward-looking trends and emerging solutions, Altes sees LogiMAT as “a home for the auto-ID industry and its commitment to optimizing logistics and production processes” through the German government’s Industry 4.0 initiative. “This is especially true for the many small and medium-sized businesses in the industry,” Altes emphasizes.
With the information and solutions presented by its exhibitors over the years – from barcodes, 2D codes, radio frequency identification (RFID), and real-time localization systems (RTLS) to sensor technology and image acquisition and processing, including virtual reality solutions with head-mounted displays – LogiMAT has showcased the evolution of more than just auto-ID technologies. This has elevated LogiMAT to “the industry event for manufacturers, distributors, solutions providers, and integrators of auto-ID technology, together with their partners, customers, and potential customers,” Altes says.
The same is true of IT and conveyance technology, forklifts, warehouse technology, and packing technology. “LogiMAT has become the information and market platform for intralogistics in the German-speaking world,” explains Urs Grütter, CEO and Chairman for Sales Projects at Stöcklin Logistik AG. “No other trade show brings together such a high concentration of providers from across the logistics industry.”
One major reason for this is LogiMAT’s consistent orientation as an industry barometer and showcase for forward-looking solutions – shuttle technology, space-saving warehouses, quick access, etc. Shuttle solutions first defined container storage in automatic small-parts storage areas starting in 2003, then pallet storage in high-rack storage. Now their influence has moved beyond shelf storage environments to driverless technology systems (DTS), which will eventually include robotic arms that reach into boxes. “The most significant trends in recent years have been the ascendancy of shuttle systems and the advances in IT, image processing, communication, modern energy storage, and – last but not least – the increasing deployment of robotics,” says Peter Bimmermann, Business Development Manager at Vanderlande Industries GmbH. “These trends enable many of the flexible intralogistics solutions that we accept as ‘normal’ today.”
Trends that LogiMAT monitored as they unfolded. Visitors to LogiMAT knew back in 2006 how e-commerce would affect logistics and what kind of solutions we need to overcome these challenges. The year 2007 saw the introduction of IT web services – cloud services – which were known at the time as software as a service (SaaS). One focus in March 2009 was the shift from process-oriented software to a service-oriented architecture that defines today’s software solutions and is the basis for digitization and for achieving such forward-looking projects as Industry 4.0 and the internet of things. LogiMAT responded by focusing on issues such as the integration of DTS, swarm technology, and end-to-end integration as benefits to the intralogistics industry as early as 2009.
At the end of the last decade, LogiMAT also presented solutions for more energy-saving intralogistics, for sustainable warehouse construction, and for more environmentally friendly plant vehicles and forklift trucks – concepts that are now categorized under “green logistics.” “When looking at it through the lens of logistics and e-commerce, green logistics remains a significant issue,” affirms Mathias Thomas, owner of Dr. Thomas + Partner. “A key issue for logistics now that will remain important in the future is the much-talked-about ‘last mile’ in direct-to-consumer shipping – otherwise known as urban logistics.” Solutions that have since become a reality and are needed now more than ever – such as models for using cargo e-bikes in urban logistics – are and were (in 2003 no less!) initiated and showcased at LogiMAT.
“The internet of things was and remains critical – from the first RFID projects to the global developments that are penetrating more and more areas of logistics,” concludes ten Hompel. “We’re working on swarms of autonomous vehicles, gesture recognition, digital headgear, and smart shelf systems – and LogiMAT 2017 will continue to focus on the global innovations in intralogistics that are changing our future.”
“In light of the developments in technology, we can be proud that LogiMAT has gone so far to make the intralogistics industry a high-tech pioneer,” concludes event director Kazander. “Through it all, we never forgot the human element. The goal of the featured solutions – to optimize the way humans interact with their machines – is embraced by the entire LogiMAT team, the Messe Stuttgart venue, and in the event’s very concept. LogiMAT still offers industry professionals a compact overview of the industry with informational added value. For exhibitors, it provides a concentrated expo and “working” trade show in a pleasant atmosphere. Because whatever else technology and automation bring us: people are at the center or it all.”
The next LogiMAT will take place at Messe Stuttgart, directly adjacent to the airport, March 14–16, 2017. LogiMAT 2016 drew 1,280 international exhibitors from 32 countries, who filled eight halls presenting the latest solutions and product developments for smart, sustainable intralogistics. The trade show attracted 43,466 industry professionals from 60 countries in 2016. It offers a complete overview of the market and is now regarded as the largest annual event of its type in the world. TradeWorld – a special strategic component of LogiMAT with its own program of expert forums – features exhibitors showcasing e-commerce and omnichannel solutions for businesses in the manufacturing, commercial, and service sectors. Visitors to the exhibit halls at LogiMAT can also find a different program of presentations each day on a wide range of topics.