The Industry 4.0 vision becoming reality

Fraunhofer IML is currently involved in a number of projects to develop Industry 4.0 solutions. To bring us step-by-step closer to the vision of universally integrated networks we are exploring cyber-physical systems, decentralized and autonomously organised processes, technologies for the Internet of Things and future-oriented IT solutions. These projects illustrate the increasing relevance of digitalization in logistics as Industry 4.0 takes shape. Just take a look at what is already possible nowadays!



inBin – the intelligent container

The first truly intelligent container communicates with humans and machines, makes its own decisions, monitors its environmental conditions and guides logistics processes. The separation of goods information from real goods has been lifted – and the Internet of Things is becoming reality

RackRacer - an automatic shuttle warehouse without lift

The new climbing shuttle autonomously moves up and down – in effect diagonally – across the rack without the need for a lift or any additional rails. It is equipped with two swivel-mounted crawler elements that support themselves at individual points on the rack. This enables the shuttles to store or retrieve items at any position in the rack entirely autonomously.

Hub2Move – the hub of the future

Hub2Move, a project launched by the EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr, is based on the idea of a portable warehouse. The hub of the future – a distribution centre that can be relocated – should be adaptable to changing needs. It should be possible to modify handling, conveying and storage technology in the hub to meet new requirements within days, and to have the complete hub up and running at an entirely new location within weeks..

Coaster – human-machine interface – ProductionPad

At the LogiMAT fair in 2014 we introduced the very first cost-effective human-machine interface with practical applications for Industry 4.0. Coaster not only controls automated guided vehicles like the cubeXX by STILL, it processes order picking tasks, and allows the driver to monitor and control individual production machines.

Cellular transport systems – collective intelligence for logistics

»“If objects know where to go, they can take the shortest route.« This simple yet revolutionary statement illustrates the idea of cellular transport systems as a logical consequence of the Internet of Things.

iDisplay – the electronic label

This mobile management system ensures a transparent exchange of data and information, and replaces time-consuming, conventional manual labelling systems. Clipped directly onto the patent-pending rack rail, it transmits its position to the merchandise management. Every subsequent change of position or removal is identified and displayed in the app.

InventAIRy – the flying inventory assistant

Sensor technology enables the system to autonomously observe and analyse its environment, and use this information to navigate a warehouse, to record logistical items and carry out inventories. The collected data is transmitted wirelessly to third-party systems (e.g. warehouse management systems), allowing the direct communication of selected contextual information.


Inadequate communication between control logic, machines and the users of production plants and logistics systems is one of the main problems facing modern networked manufacturing. Striving towards the vision of Industry 4.0, the SmARPro project (Smart Assistance for Humans in Production) aims to promote the standardized recording and processing of operational data using the SmARPro platform.

Smart Maintenance

Industry 4.0 will lead to a higher degree of networked systems, automation and technology. Efficient use of limited resources demands system stability and the optimal condition of the plant. However, there is a risk that industry will experience an acute shortage of skilled labour.

E3 Production Fraunhofer model project

E3 Production means: investigating synergy effects across all levels of the process, the process chain, factory and the factory environment, and translating these into solutions for practical applications. In addition to saving energy and resources this involves the development of solution concepts for carbon-neutral factories and rethinking the role that humans play in the manufacturing process.

DyCoNet – borderless networking of ULDs

Millions of tons of fresh food are distributed all over the globe by air freight every year, placing increasingly high demands on the logistical processes. In response to this, DyCoNet is testing the borderless networking of ULDs using universally accessible technologies such as GSM/UMTS and GPS, with the aim of establishing comprehensive availability of logistical data and autonomous material flow.

IoT-A Internet of Things architecture

A global network of intelligent devices and objects that communicate with each other and their environment – research into the Internet of Things is going on all around us. The IoT-A project has created an architectural reference model consisting of a series of key components that represents a move away from isolated solutions towards a common framework for the Internet of Things.

smaRTI - smart reusable transport items

Intelligent material flow - smaRTI aims to develop approaches that serve multiple industries and supply chains for intelligent material flow. Based on the concept of the Internet of Things, objects find their own routes through the logistics network.