Automation: Lenze inside

You may never have heard of Lenze, but if you're using automated materials handling, their processors and drives could be part of your system.

By ·

We’ve all seen the Intel Inside sticker on our laptops. We may not know a lot about how processors work, but we know that the one running the computer is from Intel.

Lenze, the German automation provider, might want to create a Lenze Inside sticker. You may not know a lot about what their drives and processors actually do, but you’ll find them inside automated materials handling equipment from the likes of Dematic, TGW, SSI Schaefer and Witron – whose system for auto parts manufacturer febi will be featured on the June cover.

While Lenze is best-known in Europe, they attended ProMat for the first time this past March and are making a concerted effort in North America. Earlier this week, I talked to Joachim Hanke, Lenze’s head of intralogistics, to get a view from Europe on what’s happening in automation. The most important trend could be that Henke is seeing an increased in interest in automation around the Globe. “In Europe, there is already a high level of automation because the cost of land and labor is so expensive,” he says. “In Asia, we’re seeing an interest in automation because so many people are moving to cities. You have to support that demand. And, North America, we think end users are really focused on reducing the cost of transporting a good, whether they’re shipping one unit or ten unit loads.”

Hanke outlined three trends that he believes are impacting automated materials handling. 

Materials handling becomes intralogistics: I’ve been hearing the term intralogistics more often of late. Largely, I think it’s a European term, one that Hanke used to describe “the inhouse flow of materials, what I think you refer to as materials handling in North America.” But, after talking to Hanke, I think intralogistics represents more than just another way of saying materials handling. Rather, it reflects the discipline of materials flow when you move to highly-automated systems, which is one of those areas where Lenze plays. For instance, as more end users express interest in highly-automated systems, Lenze has created a team at its headquarters that captures solutions and best practices that can be rolled out in future systems, like blocks of functionality for the X and Y coordinates of an AS/RS system. The idea is that not everything is a custom solution. “This is the first time that we have tried to save the knowledge about new machines, trends and solutions,” Hanke says. “But it will help us to expand automated solutions to other regions and customers.”

Green logistics is taking hold in Europe: Hanke says that green logistics is one of the biggest trends he is seeing among his European customers. Last year, Lenze launched something it calls BlueGreen solutions. The idea is to use new software tools to properly dimension drives that match the demand of the motors and system; to convert electric energy with a high degree of efficiency with high efficiency motors, inverters and gearboxes and where possible to recover braking energy. But, to Lenze, green logistics goes beyond energy savings to also include space savings. “We’re looking at what can we do to support the machines and the building to bring a more competitive offering to our end users,” he says.

The quantity of one: In Europe, as in the US, Lenze is seeing an increased focus on e-commerce and catalog orders of a single line item. “We are focusing our solutions on how to support that cost-effective handling of a quantity of one,” Hanke says. 


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
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.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Automation · Energy · Lenze Americas · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Download the full 2016 Modern Materials Handling Salary Survey
How does your earning power match up with your peers across the material handling industry? Materials Handling salary survey, Warehouse manager salary survey, Warehouse Salary Research
Download Today!
From the November 2016 Issue
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to the line. The result is a more consistent, efficient and safer operation.
Optimizing home delivery: It takes more than planning
9th Annual Salary Survey: Success and Satisfaction Continue to Reign
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Webcast: Confronting omni-channel complexity
During this webcast we’ll examine the current activities, trends, and best practices in warehouse and DC operations management and how companies plan to address complex issues associate with omni-channel fulfillment.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Systems Report: Whirpool puts mobile robots to work
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to...
Modern Materials Handling’s 2017 Casebook Collection
The 2017 Casebook features more than 35 case studies that put the spotlight on successful innovation...

Brownells: Designing for Efficiency and Growth
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order...
Industry celebrates National Manufacturing Day
Fourth annual Manufacturing Day is a grassroots effort by U.S. manufacturers to improve the public...