The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) has been tackling logistic tasks, mainly the process, hardware and software development for internal and external logistics. The IML turnover consists of more than 50% of industrial contracts for software development in different logistical applications, supply chain consulting and R&D of novel logistical solutions. Knowledge acquired from funded projects is directly transferred in industrial contracts. So made-to-measure arranged teams create cross- industry and customer-specific solutions in the area of materials handling, warehouse management, supply chain management, simulation supported business and system planning and also traffic systems, closed loop economy, resources logistics, building logistics and e-business. IML is said to be first address for all questions with respect to holistic logistics, the employees work on all fields of internal and external logistics. At the Institute, founded in 1981, there are at the moment 200 employees as well as 250 post-graduates, supported by colleagues in workshops, laboratories and service areas.

List of equipment
  • With a floor area of approximately 1,000m² of empty space the LivingLab is by design build as a flexible reconfigurable intra-logistics test facility. The already established decentralized Multi-agent system structure controlling about 50 autonomous mobile robots and the configurability of the lab area offer a variety of test scenarios. Due to the intrinsic functional safe mobile robots new safety concepts can be tested and human machine interaction techniques can be developed. Furthermore, the wide angle surveillance camera system can act as a reference during the evaluation of different localization techniques. This is the biggest artificial intelligence experiment in intra-logistics
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List of services
  • International enterprise development
  • Information logistics and decision support system
  • Production logistics, intra-logistics and IT planning
  • Procurement and finance in supply chain management
Future investments
  • Continous of upgrade of three main labs of IML: LivingLab Cellular Transport Systems, Packaging laboratory and Autonomous Identification: openID Centre
Regional ecosystem and business plan

Being part of the Fraunhofer Society, IML is a non-profit institute which aims to bridge the gap between fundamental research of the university and the product driven development of the industry by advancing applied research. With roughly 50% of the revenue being derived from industry contracts the IML acts in the role of a leading Competence Centre for logistics now for over 35 years. Having a strong background in the development of technical automation solutions for intralogistics over 1/3 auf the yearly 26 million € is related to this field of application. With being the driving force for the concept of the Internet of Things for Germany since 2003 the institute has participated the formation of the German vision initiative of Industry 4.0. With taking over the leading role in the Europeans largest research project the “EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr”1 which incorporates 120 industrial partners as well as 11 research organizations, IML has generated a large network of partners in Germany which has also been well establish in Europe as well with taking over a leading role in ALICE (“Alliance for Logistic Innovation through Collaboration in Europe”). From this leading role IML currently has been named “Kompetenzzentrum für den Mittelstand”2 for North Rhine-Westphalia to help SMEs to ramp up for Industry 4.0.

In this role IML is currently already acting as a local Competence Center that is helping SMEs with advice and technical support on their automation projects. L4MS platform will provide the needed toolset to go on with this effort. In addition, the marketplace as well as the to be established network of competence center will contribute greatly to this task by further promoting this role as a Competence Center. IMLs future business plan is to supplement by applying for additional funding’s as well as to utilize its status to raise to continue rising money from the industry. As examples the currently ongoing national funding of round about 10 million € for the “Innovationslabor Hybride Dienstleistungen in der Logistik”3 will generate a newly equipped test facility which can be contributed to the L4MS automation experiments. In addition just recently IML has been announced to lead 2 of the 5 Bitkom Digitial Hubs4 to strengthen the German Start-Up scene which will lead to a further development of the already tight network. All this ongoing efforts are finalized by the currently staring national initiative “Leistungszentrum Logistik und IT” which aims with a mixed funding of industry of round about 8 Mio to strengthen Dortmund’s standing as a leading research site for logistics and to claim the position as an excellence center in the international context. IML will utilize this standing to further advance the L4MS scientific contribution within international context.