Advanced Logistics or Logistics 4.0 consists of the optimisation of the whole supply chain through physical, digital and operational interconnectivity. The term Logistics 4.0 was coined in 2011 as an element supporting the broad concept of Industry 4.0, and, in recent times, other related terms such as supply chain 4.0, marketing 4.0, distribution 4.0, inventory management 4.0, etc. have emerged, and these represent the response of the logistic field to the development and requirements of Industry 4.0.

Logistics 4.0 should support the Industry 4.0 processes, from the processing of market requirements and production planning, to the delivery of products to the end users. The solution for all of these challenges is the digitalisation of logistics activities and processes, and according to Kayikci (2008) the main characteristics of these are as follows:

  • Cooperation: The creation of virtual logistics associations (clusters) that companies can use to exchange data and information.
  • Connectivity: Horizontal and vertical integration in the supply chains and the visibility of information at all stages of said chains.
  • Adaptiveness: Flexibility of the connected digital resources system that makes it possible for a quick response to be given if changes are made to the market configuration (requests, users, suppliers, etc.).
  • Integration: The integration of logistics systems that connect different computer systems and software applications physically or functionally, in order to coordinate the whole logistics flow.
  • Autonomous control: Smart objects, which are capable of communication and decision-making based on processing own data and environmental characteristics.
  • Cognition: Devices and systems for the automation of tasks requiring human skills, knowledge, perception and cognitive skills (planning, reasoning and learning).

Logistics 4.0 is defined as Smart Logistics because its components enable the intelligent management of processes. According to Wang (2016) the components of Logistics 4.0 are Automatic Identification, Real-time location, Automatic data collection, Connectivity and Integration, Data processing and analysis and Business Services. There are numerous technologies that implement the stated components, and the most important are included in the following chart.

Components and technologies of Logistics 4.0 [1]

Advanced Logistics or Logistics 4.0 looks to integrate the whole supply chain through the interconnection of systems and the maximum coordination between the different logistics processes. Advanced Logistics uses key new technologies such as augmented reality, wearables, mobile devices and GPS systems, autonomous vehicles, RFID label systems, etc., to optimise the route and deliveries management process, reduce stock and storage space, improve the goods control process (using geolocalisation and traceability systems), and allow for the automation of payment processes, etc.

 

 

Two of the emerging technologies that are transforming Logistics and that will play a key role when moving towards the Factory of the Future are AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), and these have both been described briefly below:

  • AGVs: Automated Guided Vehicles – AGV are a goods and industry materials transport system that travel autonomously and are powered by a set of batteries enabling them to work for hours. These systems are used to increase efficiency, decrease damage to goods and reduce general expenses.

ASTI Mobile Robotics EasyBot Platform [2]

  • UAVs: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are vehicles that fly without an on-board pilot and these are the main element of the UAS, the unmanned aircraft system, which is comprised of the aircraft, the ground station and the communications system. Said aircrafts may be completely autonomous, programmed to follow a flight pattern and predefined guidelines, or they may be remotely commanded by a pilot through a data link. The latter are known as RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) or RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems).

P4 Multispectral Dron by DJI [3]