Smart intra plant logistics: the key to unlocking supply chain superpowers

By Katie Tormala

The global pandemic dramatically altered the way consumers connect, compute and communicate. Consumers needed more devices to connect for work and entertainment, leading to a stronger demand for small electronics like laptops, cell phones and gaming equipment. It also highlighted existing vulnerabilities in the electronics manufacturing supply chain with factory closures, reduced workforces, and transportation delays that resulted in limited access to raw materials and components.

Addressing supply chain challenges such as unpredictable lead times can seem overwhelming to most electronics manufacturers. Externally, managers can source products from domestic suppliers, use a diverse upstream and evaluate current geopolitical complications to better predict future trends.  

Internally, electronics manufacturers can execute a digital transformation, including automation and digitalization. To help alleviate the pressure of a constantly changing supply chain, manufacturers can adopt an intelligent inventory control system to efficiently manage intra plant logistics.

Increased agility with smart intra plant logistics

The way electronics manufacturers manage materials today frequently results in an inefficient flow across the facility, hampering the productivity of the process and severely affecting profit margins. Materials are misplaced. Additional physical storage space increases overhead. High-tech components that sit quickly become obsolete. Supply chain difficulties result in an excess of the incorrect part and an underabundance of the correct part.

Master material flow throughout the plant and synchronize production with an integrated shop floor and supply chain solution to reduce inventory, decrease expenses, enhance material availability, improve product quality and optimize supply chain interactions.

An intelligent material management solution brings transparency to the supply chain and streamline material movement throughout the entire factory, from storing components to finished product.

Using an integrated shop floor and supply chain solution will also:

  • Improve application for quicker material turnover
  • Boost supply chain efficiencies with agility and flexibility
  • Remain informed of what is obtainable
  • Maintain inventory while assessing logistics for improved performance
  • Recognize your options and plan with widespread visibility

A just-in-time (JIT) solution can increase efficiency by facilitating better inventory accuracy and material planning. Employing these solutions guarantees the correct material is collected and stored, which improves efficiency in the warehouse and on the production floor.

Supply-and-demand forecasts are met through logistical planning that includes the timely collection of necessary materials. Automated or manual integration guides pick-up, alerting the logistics operator via mobile device, website or transport order. The chosen material is then validated in accordance with the picking order.

Unlocking smart intra plant logistics superpowers with the digital twin

Siemens Opcenter Intra Plant Logistics (IPL) is a smart material handling solution to deliver the correct materials at the right time and location. Boost automation and decrease redundancy by integrating with current enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES).

  • Using a digital twin, real-time inventory management offers comprehensive transparency for stock and moving products, as well as for WIP consumption and material waste.
  • Setup verification guarantees components are used in accordance with their parameters to identify and stop material misapplication from acquisition until they are employed on the production line.
  • In-/outbound management documents the arrival of raw materials and the departure of completed items
  • Replenishment operations ensures that the necessary resources, at the lowest cost, are always readily available when needed.
  • Storage management supports Kanban, specifying precisely which materials are held at each location and ensuring the correct carrier is utilized.
  • Transport management provides a comprehensive approach and unequalled visibility for tracking and tracing items across the whole operation: anticipate the need for replenishment, direct automated storage to select and kit the material, integrate with AGV and schedule the pick-up and delivery of materials.

Take control with an integrated shop floor and supply chain solution

Supply chain disruptions occur at random frequency, at different levels of severity and with different effects on consumers and manufacturers. An integrated shop floor and supply chain solution that provides visibility, agility and flexibility to the overall manufacturing process can bring lasting efficiency and handle any upstream disruptions in your supply chain.

Download the intelligent intralogistics ebook to learn more about overcoming supply chain challenges in electronics manufacturing.

This blog post was co-written by Trisha Garrett.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at