Dr.-Ing. Maren Müller

Head of Industry
Practice Areas:
Production planning & control, storage planning, simulation of material flow
+49 (0)511 279 76-443

Doctoral thesis

Globalization and the associated increase in competitive pressure are presenting companies with new challenges. Customer demands for fast delivery times, a wide range of variants and favorable prices lead to constant pressure for improvement in companies. In this context, the focus is also on optimizing or increasing the efficiency of logistics activities. To carry out logistical activities in the warehouse, transport systems are required that are selected individually for each company. This selection is very time-consuming for companies and requires a high professional competence of the employees. To support this, a method was developed in this thesis, with which the transport system selection in the warehouse can be carried out in a supported manner, taking into account the necessary degree of changeability and automation. During the development of the method, both the given and the necessary degree of automation and changeability of transport systems were determined individually. In addition, costs were taken into account, the decision components (costs, automation changeability) were considered in combination and the application of the method in companies was prepared. Through an exemplary application it could be confirmed that the developed method can accelerate a selection project, reduce the commissioning of additional consulting services and that the selection of employees can be carried out without high expertise. In addition to the resulting increase in efficiency of the selection project, the user-friendliness could be increased while maintaining the same quality of results. Furthermore, the individual sub-methods can also be used independently of each other and a transfer of the developed method to other systems is possible.

Transport system, system selection, automation, ability to change


A volatile, non-transparent market environment leads to fluctuations in the load on production capacities in the manufacturing sector, which are reflected within production in the over- or underutilization of machines and persons. Small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) are expecting increasing volatility, which is accompanied by an increase in the frequency of market and economic cycles. For SMEs it is difficult to cope with these fluctuations. Capacity sharing platforms can be a solution for this challenge. Platforms are available in different forms, but not used by companies often, because of prevailing scepticism in different fields. Therefore, a methodology will be developed to provide a decision support for or against platform usage. Additionally, the platform type choice will be supported, and the changes of logistic and economic indicators will be considered. With this information companies can make a qualitative decision, and the existing inhibitions can be alleviated.

capacity sharing, decision support, supplier and consumer view, logistic and economic indicators

Storage planning is an important element of the factory planning and a significant competitive factor in times of an increasing global market. The selection of a suitable storage, commissioning and transport system (sct system) is a major challenge for companies, because of the increasing number of new sct systems with different features. The level of automation and versatility of these systems are intransparent and the required level of both for a certain company is unknown. To identify the level of versatility of sct systems a method based on versatility characteristics assigned to the versatility enablers was developed. To determine the required versatility of sct systems for a particular company, a catalogue of change drivers was created. For the level of automation of sct systems, the requirements resulting from product characteristics and performance requirements of the warehouse were identified. The performance of the sct systems depends on the automation level, which can be set by influencing factors such as the degree of digitalization. The required level of automation must be determined by restrictions of the company and the identified possibilities of the systems. At the same time, it is required to consider the costs of the systems as well as their possible combinations. Therefore, to save costs, the aim is also to consider systems which do not fit perfectly to the required versatility and automation level for a company but are still at an acceptable level.

storage, commissioning and transport systems, automation and versatility

In many companies, the demands placed on in-house processes is increasing in order to get the maximum benefit from available capacities. This includes, among other things, avoiding waste of internal capacity. With the optimization of route sheets by adapting the level of detail to the needs of production, a significant contribution can already be made during work preparation. Improving in the provision of information can have a positive impact on the efficiency of a company by reducing non-value-adding activities.

route sheets, work preparation, level of detail, provision of information, MES-implementation

Development of a methodologically procedure to enable companies to trade their free or required capacities by using a digital platform. The cross-sectoral digitalization of the economy not only leads to the creation of innovative products and services, but also to a change in existing market logics. Digital platforms are increasingly being regarded as growth and innovation drivers of digital change [2]. By linking the sharing economy in form of capacity sharing with digital platforms, companies can sell or purchase their free or required capacities across companies and thus counteract negative consequences of under- or overloading (such as short-time work or overtime).

capacity sharing

The selection of storage, commissioning and transport systems (sct systems) is very complex due to the large number of available systems on the market and influencing factors. One important influencing factor is automation. To classify the degrees of automation of sct systems and to determine the individually required automation a method is proposed below.

automation, storage, commissioning and transport systems

The selection of a storage commissioning and transport system in times of industry 4.0 often takes place based on the automation that these systems bring with them. It is difficult to assert the actual level of automation from these systems. This paper presents general approaches for the determination of automation. After it will give a presentation of the developed method to identify the level of automation from systems.

level of automation, storage, commissioning and transport systems, storage planning, logistics

The storage planning is an important component of the factory planning and describes an improvement potential in the times of an increasing global competition. The selection of a suitable storage, commissioning and transport system is a big challenge especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. In a research project of IPH – Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover a method for companies will be created to determine the necessary level of versatility and automation to choose an optimal system. This article introduces the research project and explains the approach and first results.

storage planning, sct systems, versatility, automation, software demonstrator

Research projects