Industry 4.0 compels medium-sized companies to open up

In this era of interconnected business processes, collaboration and integration are decisive for small and medium-sized companies from trade and industry. To make a success of the digital transformation, what is called for are decentralized structures with flat, process-oriented hierarchies. These are the core messages from an interview with Bernhard Simon, CEO of logistics provider DACHSER, and Professor Michael Henke, director of Fraunhofer IML and chair of Enterprise Logistics at the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at TU Dortmund.

Bernhard Simon, CEO DACHSER
Bernhard Simon, CEO DACHSER

In the most recent issue of “DACHSER Magazine” (Edition 4/2015), published today, the two digitalization pioneers shared their thoughts on interconnected processes, IT security and the future role of humans in the digital working world. Click here to access the current issue (PDF, interview on pages 32 to 34)

We must point them toward economic assessment models that make them comfortable to collaborate and integrate with logistics providers

Bernhard Simon, CEO DACHSER

Digitalization must serve the business model

For Bernhard Simon, digitalization and Industry 4.0 are evolutionary developments and definitely not an end in themselves. It’s much more about “getting your entrepreneurial idea to work and deciding which control and management methods you need to apply.” First and foremost, digitalization must serve the business model. Prof. Henke also sees opportunities for smaller companies: “We must point them toward economic assessment models that make them comfortable to collaborate and integrate with logistics providers.” In his view, because small and medium-sized companies have transparent structures and short decision-making processes, they are certainly agile enough for digitalization.

Simon also believes that DACHSER’s strength lies in the fact that it is a decentralized, closely interconnected organization. “The players get direct feedback from the network as to whether they have acted correctly or if they have to make adjustments. We have built up plenty of experience over the years of how to recognize the condition of the overall system in real time.”

IT security is fundamental for Logistics 4.0
For DACHSER, Industry 4.0 means above all that the logistics provider can offer value-oriented supply chains that enable a maximum level of control. The DACHSER principle of an integrated logistics service is based on one-hundred percent control of information, with only one interface to the customer. DACHSER achieves this by interconnecting its IT systems to create one homogenous data landscape. Data security is an essential aspect of this. “At DACHSER, we have created our own private cloud that connects us throughout the company and lets us maintain secure processes all the time.” As part of the process, DACHSER had its corporate IT, including software development, certified according to ISO 27001.

Silicon Valley? We would rather go to the Ruhr region!

The two men agree that Germany is also a hotbed of innovation when it comes to Logistics 4.0. “You don’t have to travel to Silicon Valley to learn about complex, value-driven logistics,” says Simon. Prof. Henke shares this opinion: “There are plenty of examples right here on our doorstep. For instance, we are planning to organize bus tours from our research location in Dortmund to visit innovative companies in the Ruhr region or in the neighboring region of Sauerland that stand as impressive examples of Industry 4.0 and the attendant progress of digitalization in medium-sized companies.”

You can read the entire interview with Prof. Henke and Simon in DACHSER magazine, published today. The magazine’s title story “Intelligence Wins” also delves into the topics of digitalization and Logistics 4.0. DACHSER magazine is published four times a year in four languages. With a circulation of 42,000 copies, it addresses both DACHSER’s customers and the company’s employees.

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