MAN was recognized for its 'ConMa' empty-container optimization software, which it developed within eight months (Photo: MAN)

Robert Bosch and MAN Truck & Bus were dual winners of this year’s VDA Logistics Award, with digital logistics solutions in intra-logistics and empty container scheduling, respectively. It is the first time that the award was shared between two companies.

The logistics awards were given on behalf of the German Automotive Industry Association (VDA), and the Federal Logistics Association (BVL).

Bosch was recognized for a number of digital solutions, which included connecting its self-developed software, such as ‘ProCon’ for production steering, together with in-plant and warehouse transport. These cover logistics processes from customer demand, planning for equipment and systems, right up to the steering of both traditional and autonomous transport means.

In more than 50 plants, Bosch has been able to automate bookings, replenishment and real-time kanban loops thanks to synchronized data exchange and digital processes. “Bosch has big expectations for digital connectivity," said Andreas Reutter, member of the company's management board for the central department for purchasing and logistics. "The logistics chain will become more efficient, safer and more flexible, for intralogistics as well in our global value chain,” he added.

Volkswagen Group-owned truck maker MAN, meanwhile, developed its own software for empty container optimization, ‘ConMa’, within eight months. The system, implemented in October 2016, is already responsible for planning and shipment for more than 6 million returnable containers.

ConMa is used to plan and manage standard processes across the entire scheduling process for containers, using intelligent algorithms to determine better transport utilization and a higher level of automation. Project leaders Matthias Conze and Fabian Maier said the system has helped MAN to redevelop container management. The software has already been implemented across MAN locations.

The awards are judged by a jury comprised from executives from across the German automotive and logistics sectors, including Volkswagen Group, BMW, Daimler, Opel, Continental and ZF Friedrichshafen.

The VDA and BVL cited both Bosch and MAN as important examples of the increasing digitalization and connectivity of automotive logistics processes and equipment.

“Connectivity and digitalization aren’t just about making tomorrow’s transport more fluid and safer, they are also making intelligent logistics solutions and new factory concepts possible,” said VDA President Matthias Wissmann.

Robert Blackburn, chairman of the BVL, said digitalization in the Germany logistics industry is on track, but he warned that progress varies across the landscape.

Said Blackburn: "In terms of necessary investment in digitalization, many medium-sized German companies are falling behind. And it is exactly these companies that would be helped by the more efficient use of limited resources [that digitalization allows].”

Automotive Logistics will host its first European awards event this June 12th in Bonn, Germany. Entries for awards are now open, with a deadline of February 12th. Judges include executives from more than 20 companies, including BMW, Volkswagen Group, FCA, Magna, Continental, Aptiv and many more. To enter, click here.