The load carriers of the future: research project iSLT.NET

Andreas Sachs presents the load carriers of the future project

Gebhardt presents the iSLT.NET research project at LogiMAT

The iSLT.NET project, a network for intelligent, modular special load containers, was given the green light at the beginning of February. In March, Gebhardt Logistic Solutions GmbH presented the project in Stuttgart at LogiMAT, the international trade fair for distribution and material and information. Together with well-known partners from industry and research, the basic idea of the load carrier of the future is being driven forward, from conception to the production of a prototype.

As the load carrier specialist, Gebhardt has always developed concepts which set new standards. Today, the demand is for future-proof, sustainable solutions which meet the requirements of everyone involved in the process and which make best use of the potential of modern technology. Gebhardt has therefore joined forces with partners from industry and research to form a research association. This allows every angle to be considered - from supplier to user, from craftsmen to engineering and technology.

At LogiMAT, Gebhardt presented a film to an audience of experts which demonstrated the use of special load carriers both today and in the near future. The current generation of special load carriers is characterized by a great deal of individualization. The emphasis is on a customized development for specific products. Re-use is a rarity, which means that changes to the goods, for example, a change in model, frequently leads to the load carriers being scrapped. The costs here are considerable.

Together with research partners from BMW, Dräxlmaier, Fraunhofer SCS (Supply Chain Services), the Institute for Materials Handling, Material Flow and Logistics at the Technical University of Munich, and the University of Applied Sciences, Landshut, Gebhardt has developed an idea which is based on a holistic view of the product. This involves bringing together an extremely broad range of disciplines and matching them with each other. This concentrated approach will produce a new product which is completely different from its predecessor and which offers significant added value.

Gebhardt CEO Dr. Andreas Sachs explained the development project in his presentation: "We have taken on the most important issues along the whole value chain. This has resulted in four key elements for our project: Modularity, digitalization (smart containers), a cloud platform for digital services and new, innovative business models. The only way to make radical changes in the market is to combine these approaches."

A modular design of the external frame and the internal components of the container as well as a closed loop between the manufacturer and the user of the load carrier increase flexibility and extend operating life. Thanks to the IoT, information such as geo-location, temperature, acceleration, mass etc. can be permanently called up, making the container flow completely transparent. A cloud platform allows the condition of the goods to be monitored at all times via a range of devices. This digital process provides optimum control of the containers for user, e.g. for operational planning, as well as for the manufacturer, e.g. for maintenance or modular adaptations. The fourth element deals with the change in the current business model to an operator model. For the user, renting, leasing, pooling and pay per use are less demanding in terms of capital and provide greater flexibility.

Dr. Andreas Sachs explains: "A project which links re-usability through modular construction, process transparency through digital solutions, and a user-oriented business model can only succeed if different disciplines work together. As consortium leader, we are honored to lead the project." The project is set to run from February 2017 to January 2020. iSLT.NET generated a great deal of interest amongst the audience of experts at LogiMAT. There has already been a high demand for the new solutions for special load carriers.

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