Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster »Cloud Computing for Logistics«

Overview

The logistics of tomorrow are more difficult to predict than the weather. Internet and e-commerce provide more than a hundred million additional packages in Germany per year. Each of these packages is ordered, picked, packed, transported, distributed and delivered individually and on demand. At the same time, the number of articles increases exponentially due to more and more individual design. The flexibility and dynamism of logistical process design has now reached a level that can no longer be achieved by conventional organizational forms and is only to be handled on the basis of efficient IT solutions: logistics move things and the software determines where things are and how, from where and whereabouts they move.

The Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster »Cloud Computing for Logistics« unites the composition and organization of logistic (service) performance with IT in a common design. The two Fraunhofer Institutes IML and ISST follow the increasing demand for a new logistics software and bring together the two disciplines of logistics and informatics.  

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has ideal conditions for this: With around 250,000 employees it is the logistics stronghold of Germany. With over 5,700 logistics companies between Duisburg and Dortmund it also has the highest density of logistical services in the heart of Europe. There are around 14,000 software companies (90,000 employees) in NRW that can meet the need for IT support. Thereby NRW is also the largest ICT country in Germany. Both sectors are strongly medium-sized.

Against this background, the establishment of an Innovation Cluster with the Dortmund Fraunhofer Institutes for Material Flow and Logistics IML and for Software and Systems Engineering ISST as drivers and the TU Dortmund as a research partner is a compelling step towards strengthening the competitiveness of both industries. The competences in logistics and IT, which are present in research facilities, are synergistically combined in order to develop innovative, sustainable Cloud Computing solutions for logistics in the short term. The WM Group and Accenture were won as industrial partners.

Aims of the Cluster

Short -term Aims

In the short term, a first wave of cloud-based logistics services will be provided. The foundations for the rapid provision of industrially usable offers are developments of Fraunhofer IML, such as the warehouse management system myWMS or PUZZLE for the optimization of loading and transport units, as well as the IT infrastructures existing at Fraunhofer ISST within the Competence Center for Processes and Architectures COMPARC, Such as IBM WebSphere or SAP Netweaver. The first demonstrators for Cloud-based logistics services will be deployed in commercially available Clouds on the basis of the Fraunhofer ISST semantic services platform MILEO and the Fraunhofer IML logistics services mentioned above within the first six months.

Medium-term Aims

For medium-term development, the cluster has identified three areas of innovation that will have a sustained impact on the support of logistical business processes by IT and correspond in their temporal sequence to the development in the Cluster:

  • Logistics by Design: Semantic models for logistics
  • Logistics as a Service: Engineering of logistics services in the cloud
  • Logistics as a Product: A logistics center for logistics services in the Cloud

 

Lead Projects of the Cluster

  • The lead project »Design methodology for logistics processes« enables logistics service providers to define innovative logistics processes by linking logistics services and logistics IT services. Key results of the lead project are an approach model for the design of cloud-capable logistics processes and an associated modeling tool. The basis is an application ontology in which business objects and services are described semantically. Beside the logistics enterprises the service enterprises will benefit, because with these tools they can extend their business activity by the offer of workable logistics processes.

  • In the lead project »Cloud Service Engineering« concepts and technologies are developed for the efficient realization of IT services in the cloud. By this, the IT functions required in an innovative logistics process can be quickly and precisely provided. The results of the lead project are a development environment for logistics IT services and a tool for the semantic description of services. In this way, the standardization of business objects in logistics is promoted and the interoperability of the emerging services is supported. In addition, companies can develop logistics IT services without having to invest in the procurement and operation of complex IT infrastructures. At the same time, the integration of new services with existing applications is simplified by providing suitable standardized interfaces.

  • The »Logistics Mall« project lays the foundations for offering logistics IT services and logistics processes as commercial objects in the cloud. This applies both to the design of the processes as well as to their instantiation and execution. This will enable the Logistics Mall to coordinate and control the logistic process beyond the one-stop shop for logistics.