Regionalmanagment NordHessen’s „Innovation Lab- Smart Logistics“: Innovative format for new ideas within regional logistics.

Journal of Open ENLoCC, the European Network of Logistics Competence Centers
Issue 2020-1, Article 07

What does a small or medium- sized enterprise (SME) need in order to bring innovative ideas to the market? Large companies have their own research and development (R&D) departments that can operate and plan their processes with many specialized resources. Launching a new product is an automated process for large companies but a big challenge for small companies. In order to help overcoming some main obstacles for SMEs like consulting, market analysis and marketing all at once, we invented the MoWiN Innovation Lab in 2018. The awarded format is part of the best practices in the INTERREG Europe project SCALE UP.

The objective of the MoWiN Innovation Lab is to identify cooperative R&D projects through the targeted networking of companies and the university to increase R&D activities. SMEs from the region of Nordhessen can present their own innovations and receive advice from a technical, user and business-oriented perspective during a workshop. The methodical expertise increases the maturity level of the innovation and analyzes it for possible weaknesses. Together, the target groups, the market and the market potential are assessed and possible further steps towards market introduction are determined. A consulting workshop as well as a selected panel of experts will guarantee a competent consultation with feedback. Furthermore, there is the possibility to draw attention to innovations and to network. The workshop is led and conducted by the Science Park’s broad-based product and innovation laboratory and co-hosted by the Regionalmanagement NordHessen with their MoWiN.net, the regional cluster of logistics and mobility.

As a continuation of our successful innovation laboratories from previous years in the Science Park, three companies, doks.innovation GmbH, ProFlow GmbH and Faubel & Co. Nachf. GmbH presented their innovation ideas and solutions for the logistics industry under the headline “Innovation Lab – Smart Logistics”. Under the moderation of Stefan Rötzel, product and innovation consultant of Science Park Kassel and Dr. Astrid Szogs, interim CEO of the Regionalmanagement NordHessen, the innovation ideas were validated and evaluated together with selected experts. The expert panel, a mix of logistics specialists and researchers consisted of representatives from the University of Kassel, Insignio GmbH, Libri GmbH, Rudolph Logistik Gruppe, Dachser SE and IHK. The innovations were very versatile: from problem analysis in the field of software application, to the use of optical sensor data to identify errors, to reusable and battery-free digital labels for tracking and tracing. The evaluation focused on the strategic orientation, market acceptance, application areas and users as well as research.

Doks. innovation GmbH presented their innovation ideas on the topic “Use of optical sensor data for intralogistic problems using drones”. Doks. innovation aims to revolutionize intralogistics by using optical sensor data. Flying drones are able to scan and analyse a warehouse fully atomised. This technique has a huge potential in reducing cost while detecting possible delivery errors at an early stage. The audience was very interested and further cooperation between Doks. innovation and present logisticians were initiated.

ProFlow GmbH wants to integrate existing systems with respect to digital contract management via SharePoint including liquidity planning. Every company already has its own digital infrastructure and management system. One of the main problems for the idea of an integrated solution are the interdependencies between the different providers of specific services. The use of two platforms or tools that are merged or integrated in another tool could also make the user pay two licenses. The experts see a need of software adjustments and consulting in general. The idea is going to be further developed before market maturity.

Faubel-Logistics tries to advance from the health industry into the logistics sector with a novel, reusable and versatile label that highly attracted the attention of the audience and raised the interest of the present logistics experts. The label is not only reusable or battery free, it can detect whether a product hasn’t had the right temperature, or vibrated too much during the whole delivery process. Furthermore, it can potentially replace a delivery note. There are still questions about the cost structure and how the labels can circulate effectively. A break-even point could be reached within two years after the implementation depending on the use of the label. Further evaluations and practical test will provide more detailed information.

The successfully accomplished event provided help and business contacts for the needs of the three innovators, cooperation were initiated and further researches are on the way. It is important to mention, that all participants signed a non-disclosure agreement in advance with the aim to protect intellectual property. The next MoWiN Innovation Lab is already being planned. Exciting topics like the use of fuel cells or logistic drones within logistics are going to be further discussed.

The participants of MoWiN Innovation Lab from September 2nd, 2020.

The publication of the European Review of Regional Logistics is supported by a grant of Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH (WRS).