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Intralogistics. What’s in a name?

March 29, 2011

Every now and then, a new buzzword crops up in the industry. Lately, people have been tossing around the phrase intralogistics. For instance, CeMat, the upcoming materials handling show in Hannover, Germany, bills itself as “the world’s leading fair for intralogistics.”

I’ve also noticed companies in our industry adding intralogistics to their names. There’s LTW Intralogistics, a manufacturer of stacker cranes for automated storage and retrieval systems, and Wynright Intralogistics.

So, what’s in a name? I asked Michael Scheck, the chairman of Wynright. “At base, it’s a way to explain to our wives, kids and friends what we do,” was Scheck’s initial response. “You tell people you’re an engineer and know one knows what that means.”

On a more serious note, Wynright defines intralogistics as “every dimension of logistics within the four walls related to implementing, managing, monitoring and optimizing materials handling and information flows.”

“It’s a term that explains what we do every day,” Scheck said. He pointed to UPS’s latest advertising campaign, what I think of as the “we heart logistics” campaign touting Big Brown’s ability to get a package delivered on time and keep those just-in-time production lines humming. When a major corporation is talking logistics in multi-million dollar ad campaigns, you know the topic has a little cachet.

“Thanks to UPS, people are beginning to understand the concept of logistics and intralogistics is the logistics within a facility,” Scheck said. “In business, very small percentages go right to the bottom and big percentages go out the door in logistics. So, it is the secret sauce, and the reason that a company like Wal-Mart drew its CEOs from the logistics group.”

So there you have it. Logistics is how we move things from point A to point B across the supply chain. Intralogistics is that same concept, but related to how we get our product most efficiently from the receiving dock to the shipping dock in the warehouse, plant and distribution center.

For the record, last weekend, I told my wife and daughter that I had gotten out of the materials handling business and into the intralogistics business. They still didn’t know what I do. 

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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