Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DB Schenker enters IoT research partnership with Fraunhofer Institute

Steve Rogerson
December 17, 2014
International logistics services provider DB Schenker is setting up a laboratory at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow & Logistics to develop technologies that will help it make the most of the internet of things, cloud computing and big data. The laboratory will open in January and the collaboration is scheduled to run for three years.

As part of the project, access will be granted to Fraunhofer IML's technology-on-demand laboratory and its connected workshops. This will allow DB Schenker to develop prototypes more quickly and test them in working conditions.

Called the DB Schenker Enterprise Lab for Logistics & Digitization, this laboratory in Dortmund, Germany, is the third of its kind the company has set up following similar joint ventures with the TU Darmstadt and TU Dresden universities.

"With this unique partnership, one of the things we want to achieve is the accelerated digitisation of logistics processes," said Hansjörg Rodi, chairman of the management board of Schenker Deutschland, who will be the mentor for the partnership on behalf of DB Schenker.

Work in the lab will focus on topics such as the internet of things and services, industry 4.0, big data, cloud computing and the transition from process to service – with a permanent staff of scientists as well as dedicated rooms and spaces. One of the partners' definite plans is to install an innovation radar for digitisation in logistics that will permanently monitor the latest technologies and developments in this area. They also aim to develop digital business models, make use of 3D printing and optimise warehouse management using the latest software.

"In this industry 4.0 era, DB Schenker has recognised the significance of and the opportunities offered by digitisation,” said Michael ten Hompel, managing director of Fraunhofer IML, at the signing of the agreement. “We will work together on innovative solutions that give logistics services providers the tools they need to compete in the future. DB Schenker will use the enterprise lab to become research pioneers in this important field jointly with us."

The strong ties that exist between Fraunhofer IML and TU Dortmund University mean that students writing their graduate thesis can be integrated into projects. Through this, the partners in the venture can make a contribution to promoting education and also gain direct contact to potential future employees.