ZF Friedrichshafen plans to demonstrate its IoT platform to help create a “seamless supply chain” at the Hannover Messe, in a bid to show that data, connectivity and digital twins hold the key to manufacturing and logistics improvements.


(Image: ZF)

The automotive supplier group intends to use the big industry trade fair, which starts in Hanover next week, to show how interconnected and automated processes can reduce downtime and lower manufacturing costs.

Those benefits can only be realized when companies take a holistic approach to their manufacturing processes, ZF says. “If you want to optimize logistics in a sustainable manner, you have to take the entire supply chain into consideration,” said Wilhelm Rehm, management board member in charge of commercial vehicle and industrial technology.

“This starts with production, includes internal and external delivery processes and finally concludes with the end customer,” he said in a press release.

Within the optimized supply chain, ZF will show the lifecycle of an electric axle it will start producing for an unspecified carmaker later this year.

With the help of its IoT platform, big data analysis and a digital twin, the company will show that it can identify potential problems in production. A “digital birth certificate” will provide logistics and customer information for the drive module and this will be included in an asset-tracking tag that will make transportation easier.

ZF will use the Hannover fair to offer its vision of a future Industry 4.0 manufacturing environment, where a robot loads the electric drive onto a forklift that already knows where to deliver it.

The next step in the logistics chain is then handled by ZF’s smart and electric “innovation truck,” which drives in autonomous mode. The truck also has the technology on board to drive with other trucks in a so-called “platoon” or convoy of vehicles.

Said Klaus Geissdoerfer, head of ZF’s industrial technology division: “With our IoT platform, we have created an important tool for actively advancing the digitalization of logistics.”