IT-supported stabilization of logistics networks

Industry and commerce depend more than ever on logistical processes to function reliably. In practice, however, supply chains are subject to a wide range of challenges, such as congestion, technical disruption, unexplained goods or other unpredictable events. Manual corrections are then necessary. In the ProveIT project ("Production plan-based recovery of vehicle routing plans within integrated transport networks"), researchers are now creating the basis for objectively tested and reliable interventions in logistics networks. They are developing an IT platform to help dispatchers make the right decisions. The goal is economically optimized and stable supply chains, which are not affected by incorrect interventions and reactions. The research project, headed by Robert Bosch GmbH, is funded with EUR 2.8 million by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, with a resolution of the German Bundestag.


Butterfly effect in the logistics chain

The logistics industry still lacks such a tool for decision support. Supply chains are becoming increasingly complex, geographically wide and tightly clocked. Every disturbance, but also every reaction to this disturbance, is transferred to the entire network. Without a reliable data base and a powerful IT platform, responsible employees can hardly estimate which corrections are appropriate. The ProveIT platform will provide dispatchers with necessary information to be able to respond appropriately to disruptions. In addition, the platform aims to quickly return disturbed transport networks to the target state. Stable logistics networks are also an essential part of a networked industry ("Industry 4.0").


Information from production

The project team uses a number of known technologies, such as tracking vehicles using GPS or transport planning software. What is new is that information from the production process will also be used: How urgent, for example, is the receipt of an automobile manufacturer's material? Is it a question of replenishing the warehouse, or is production reliant on delivery? Data for the sale of products or the traffic situation ("big data") can also be included by the platform. The ProveIT platform will bundle all this information. It will provide various services to users, businesses and logistics providers to plan and manage logistical processes. If, for example, the actual and the planed data are different, the platform will warn the user and indicate appropriate responses. The response options will take into account the impact on the entire transport network. Actions are not considered individually, but in their complex context. In order for the platform to take account of real-time data such as the vehicle position or the delivery status, an application for mobile terminals of truck drivers is developed.


Partners from industry, IT development and research

The project consortium combines all the competences necessary for the development and operation of the ProveIT platform. Robert Bosch GmbH heads the project and, like ZF Friedrichshafen AG, is an industrial user of the platform. The logistics service provider Geis assumes operational transport planning and implementation. LOCOM and PTV as IT providers are developing the system solutions for transport planning and control. The Research Center for Computer Science (FZI) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is responsible for the components for deviation and fault management. The Institute for Conveying Technology and Logistics Systems (IFL) at KIT is responsible for the overall concept and the scientific approach. In the first step, the consortium builds a common system architecture, which is then tested and further developed in pilot operation.


More efficient logistics

ProveIT will benefit not only industrial companies and their suppliers, but also the trade and transport service providers. The project strengthens the tactical level by stabilizing logistics systems in case of faults and returning them to the original planning. This makes supply chains more economical: the project partners expect that ProveIT can reduce transport costs by 5% with constant transport volumes - with corresponding energy, cost and CO2 savings. The project runs until autumn 2016.