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Adapting Warehouse Management Systems to the Requirements of the Evolving Era of Industry 4.0

[+] Author Affiliations
Cyril Alias, Viviana Elizabeth Ortiz Ruiz, Bernd Noche

University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany

Udo Salewski

w3logistics AG, Dortmund, Germany

Frank Eduardo Alarcón Olalla

Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador

José do Egypto Neirão Reymão

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Paper No. MSEC2017-2611, pp. V003T04A051; 14 pages
  • ASME 2017 12th International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference collocated with the JSME/ASME 2017 6th International Conference on Materials and Processing
  • Volume 3: Manufacturing Equipment and Systems
  • Los Angeles, California, USA, June 4–8, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Manufacturing Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5074-9
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


With global megatrends like automation and digitization changing societies, economies, and ultimately businesses, shift is underway, disrupting current business plans and entire industries. Business actors have accordingly developed an instinctive fear of economic decline and realized the necessity of taking adequate measures to keep up with the times. Increasingly, organizations find themselves in an evolve-or-die race with their success depending on their capability of recognizing the requirements for serving a specific market and adopting those requirements accurately into their own structure. In the transportation and logistics sector, emerging technological and information challenges are reflected in fierce competition from within and outside. Especially, processes and supporting information systems are put to the test when technological innovation start to spread among an increasing number of actors and promise higher performance or lower cost. As to warehousing, technological innovation continuously finds its way into the premises of the heterogeneous warehouse operators, leading to modifications and process improvements. Such innovation can be at the side of the hardware equipment or in the form of new software solutions. Particularly, the fourth industrial revolution is globally underway. Same applies to Future Internet technologies, a European term for innovative software technologies and the research upon them. On the one hand, new hardware solutions using robotics, cyber-physical systems and sensors, and advanced materials are constantly put to widespread use. On the other one, software solutions based on intensified digitization including new and more heterogeneous sources of information, higher volumes of data, and increasing processing speed are also becoming an integral part of popular information systems for warehouses, particularly for warehouse management systems.

With a rapidly and dynamically changing environment and new legal and business requirements towards processes in the warehouses and supporting information systems, new performance levels in terms of quality and cost of service are to be obtained. For this purpose, new expectations of the functionality of warehouse management systems need to be derived. While introducing wholly new solutions is one option, retrofitting and adapting existing systems to the new requirements is another one. The warehouse management systems will need to deal with more types of data from new and heterogeneous data sources. Also, it will need to connect to innovative machines and represent their respective operating principles. In both scenarios, systems need to satisfy the demand for new features in order to remain capable of processing information and acting and, thereby, to optimize logistics processes in real time.

By taking a closer look at an industrial use case of a warehouse management system, opportunities of incorporating such new requirements are presented as the system adapts to new data types, increased processing speed, and new machines and equipment used in the warehouse. Eventually, the present paper proves the adaptability of existing warehouse management systems to the requirements of the new digital world, and viable methods to adopt the necessary renovation processes.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME
Topics: Warehouses



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