"Intralogistics will solve the challenges of the future" - Statement Dr. Christoph Beumer at the press conference of CeMAT Preview

  • President & CEO, BEUMER Group
  • Chairman of the CeMAT Executive Committee
  • Board Member of the Association for Conveyor Technology and Logistics Systems, German Engineering Federation (VDMA)
  • Deputy Chairman of the German Logistics Association (BVL)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Logistics – including intralogistics – is Germany’s third-largest business sector, after retail and the automotive industry. It is one of the cornerstones of the economy.

But from a global perspective intralogistics is facing some huge challenges:

- One of the primary challenges is globalization and worldwide interconnectedness. Our world is changing faster than ever. Political and geographic boundaries are becoming blurred – or being redrawn. Globalization is transforming the economy and the markets: the markets are becoming more international in some ways and more regional in others. On the one hand, Europeans are ordering their laptops on the web, to be assembled to their specifications in Texas, and expecting them to be delivered to their door within 48 hours. On the other, they want to eat organically grown vegetables from their own region.


Similarly, companies order goods on the global market but still want to buy special parts from suppliers around the corner.


All companies, large and small, must adjust to these new patterns of procurement, production, and sale. This is leading to far-reaching changes in the entire supply chain and requires enormous flexibility. Without good intralogistics none of this would be possible.


In data networking the future has already arrived. I don’t mean computers and smartphones that communicate via the Internet, I mean networking of machines, components, packages, and goods. A huge, all-encompassing network is coming into being, of which the Internet will be only the information portion. This network will completely transform the world of logistical processes.


- Another challenge facing intralogistics is the fact that the life cycles of products and goods are becoming shorter and shorter. Product ranges are being modified more often, buying behavior is accelerating, and customer expectations are rising. You can see this most clearly when a new iPhone comes out. The long lines outside the Apple Stores are a challenge not just to the vendors, but also to intralogistics, which must deal with the increased upstream and downstream activity.


- The rise of individualism in our society is another factor. With increasing globalization and interconnectedness, people are swimming less and less with the current. They want to express their individuality through their consumption behavior. Cars, for example, are now offered with more and more optional extras. The VW Beetle used to come in a standard version and an export version, each with a choice of four colors. In 2010, according to a calculation by Professor Florian Klug, the VW Golf was available in 1023 theoretical variants, and of the 1.1 million A-class cars built by Mercedes at its Rastatt plant in the course of one year, exactly two were identical. One could say that “normal is out” – not just with cars, but with everything. This would drive manufacturing companies crazy if they didn’t have intralogistics experts to manage the rapidly increasing numbers of variants – and the decreasing sizes of orders. More and more, intralogistics is playing a key role in production.


- A further factor causing far-reaching changes in intralogistics is the atomization of orders and thus of deliveries. Companies and individuals placing an order never give a thought to the amount of effort required when they order a part and then order a second part a few minutes later – along with a polite request to deliver both together. Here, of course, the growing Internet trade plays an important role. We order only what we need at the moment, and we want it delivered right to the door. And in miniscule quantities, to any destination, and at any time of day.


- Another challenge to intralogistics is demographic change. This is nothing new, but the challenge is growing and there are several aspects to it:




  • First, the span of our working lives is increasing. This means that people in logistics systems and distribution centers must work longer as well. As manufacturers and service providers in this sector, we must do our part to help them.
  • Second, the aging of the population is bringing about a significant increase in nonstore retail. One reason is the convenience of ordering by computer, but another is that many people are simply unable to go shopping. In France more than 10 percent of all food purchases are made via the Internet, and the figure is rising. This purchasing behavior is having a lasting impact on intralogistics processes.
  • Third, demographic change is leading to a shortage of skilled workers. This too presents a challenge to intralogistics, because to solve technical problems and manage new processes we need to have well-qualified employees.



Dear journalists from other countries:

Here in Germany the shortage of skilled workers is being felt acutely. Maybe you can pass the following important message to young people in your country who have a good technical education and want to get started on careers:

You are badly needed in Germany and are very welcome!


Invite them to CeMAT! These young people will be sure to find promising opportunities. In particular, call their attention to the job and career market in Hall 13. Or better yet, tell them they should come right to our stand in Hall 27!


The intralogistics industry is very international.

The BEUMER Group, for example, is represented in 70 countries. Job applicants and employees have a wide range of opportunities.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Intralogistics faces many challenges.

But the good news is that intralogistics is especially good at meeting challenges. You’ll see and feel this wherever you go at CeMAT. That’s because CeMAT is a trade fair known throughout the world as a huge showcase of concrete solutions. At our stand, for example, we are showing a 40-meter-long sorter that can sort up to 22,500 parts per hour. It has a wealth of different features, making it suitable for solving a wide range of problems.


The challenges I have just outlined are having an enormous impact on the intralogistics industry. Logistical process can no longer be viewed individually and in isolation. Instead, companies must take a comprehensive view of the flow of information and goods, both between companies and internally, and they must plan and manage in a comprehensive way as well. Competition now takes place not between companies, but between innovations in entire value chains.


The individual elements of these chains are being equipped with more and more intelligence. And this intelligence is increasingly assuming control of itself. That is, intelligent automation is on the rise. This is permitting a highly effective interlinking and networking of processes.


This interlinking has been taking place for a long time in intralogistics. But the name for it is relatively new: Industry 4.0.


This, by the way, is my answer to the question about how far our company has come in matters related to Industry 4.0: The intelligent interlinking of goods, processes, people, and locations, along with automation, has always been the fundamental task of intralogistics. What keeps changing is the technology. Intelligence is becoming increasingly decentralized.


For this kind of interconnectedness it is necessary to have a secure and reliable technology that encompasses more and more processes, functional elements, software, and control systems. They all must be integrated into a harmonious, powerful, and workable system for efficient control of this huge flow of data. The critical task for the intralogistics sector, as well as for our industry as a whole, will be to manage this complexity in such a way that it yields benefits – so that it is not just technology for its own sake. For this reason I welcome the motto of this year’s CeMAT: “Smart – Integrated – Efficient.” The fact that intralogistics can indeed produce solutions that are intelligent, integrated, and efficient – solutions that can already be put to use today – will have an impact that reaches well beyond our business sector.


What other answers to these challenges can be seen at CeMAT? Let me give you a few examples:


To make work both more efficient and more ergonomic, automation will be essential. There is no way around this. Automatic systems for conveying, sortation, and distribution, order-picking, palletizing, and depalletizing, as well as simple lifting aids, ensure that an employee in a parcel center does not have to lift 20, 30, or more tons each day with the result that he is disabled by the age of 50.


Another example is the linking of individual processes to form systems, along with the increasing importance of IT. Our systems are used, for instance, in the extraction of building materials and raw materials. We implement the entire material flow for our customers, from the excavation point to the filling machine to the finished, packaged pallet. Everything is part of an integrated system in which the parts are optimally matched to one another. The larger such systems are, the more control elements they contain that have to communicate intelligently. That’s why we have developed comprehensive drive concepts along with machine and system controllers that are based on a modular system. This not only guarantees integrated communication among the elements and systems, it ensures fast commissioning. Here, by the way, is another challenge to intralogistics: fast commissioning through the use of standardized elements. By meeting this challenge we save time for our customers and allow them to start creating added value much sooner.


Sustainable solutions are another major trend. In the future, achieving maximum performance will no longer be the only objective. The aim will also be to find flexible solutions that consume as little material and energy as possible. Examples are more economical drives for conveyor systems and intelligent calculation tools for outer packaging, which prevent having to send huge quantities of filler material back and forth.


Another trend in this area is downsizing, which means systematically reducing the size of a system while retaining or increasing its efficiency. Our BEUMER stretch hood high-performance packaging machine is a good example. We figured out how to make it smaller, reduce its consumption of material and energy, and enhance its user-friendliness. Downsizing is logical and expedient, and in many cases it is relatively easy to achieve with a little intelligence. Let me describe it this way: When you want to visit your mother-in-law for coffee on Sunday, you don’t get your 30-ton truck out of the garage, you take your Smart car. It’s more efficient, and it will get you back home a lot faster.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The leading international trade fair, CeMAT, is displaying innovations that will become standard tomorrow. This is what makes CeMAT so attractive and inspiring for international visitors – nowhere else will they find such a comprehensive range of products. This year CeMAT has broadened its concept and is organized in five technological fields, as Dr. Gruchow has just explained. This has a big advantage for all concerned: exhibitors can focus more closely on their customers, and attendees get a clearer picture of how the trade fair is structured.


CeMAT also covers a greater variety of subjects. This is an advantage for us exhibitors because it attracts a broader range of visitors. The topics include port technology, trade logistics, bulk goods, pharmaceuticals, hazardous goods, and disposal. In addition, more attention is being given to production logistics – I remind you again of those 1023 variants of the VW Golf. Everyone involved benefits from this variety, and CeMAT stands out all the more as the world’s most important industry gathering.


As an exhibitor with a wide range of products, we appreciate the fact that CeMAT offers such variety. Our systems transport iron ore from super-size freighters to the mainland, chemicals from the production plant to the dispatch location, and baggage from the check-in to the plane. In each of these cases it may at first seem like a matter of sending things from A to B. But the target groups for these applications could hardly be more different. At CeMAT we can reach them all, and in fact we have been very successful. Three years ago, we won a contract from an Asian customer right at the trade fair, which is unusual in our industry.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Intralogistics has a lot to offer. Good ideas and new technologies are in demand everywhere – from production to dispatch and retailing to the final customer. With their great innovative capacity, the companies in our industry are able to master every challenge that comes their way. I am convinced that the developments in intralogistics will serve as a model for many other industries. As the world’s leading trade fair for intralogistics, CeMAT is a tremendously important platform for innovative businesses and products. No other event in this sector has such a broad international reach and is so strongly focused on solutions.


I therefore look forward to CeMAT 2014 and wish the attendees and exhibitors the best of success. May all of you have an exciting experience.


Thank you for your attention.