Industrie 4.0 demands further research on intelligent intralogistics solutions

2018 was a record year for the German intralogistics industry. After two years of low growth, the production volume in 2018 increased by 5 percent to 22.1 billion euros according to a current estimate. For the current year, the VDMA Trade Association for Materials Handling and Intralogistics predicts further growth of 3 percent. “In view of geopolitical uncertainties, such as the Brexit, it can be assumed that the pace of growth will normalize,” explains Dr. Klaus-Dieter Rosenbach, Chairman of the Executive Board of VDMA Materials Handling and Intralogistics. Caution is no coincidence: over 60 percent of exports go to the EU and other European countries. Great Britain is the third largest customer of intralogistics systems for manufacturers from Germany.

Europe’s most important sales market

The EU 28 countries alone purchased intralogistics solutions worth 8.5 billion euros from Germany in 2018 – with a total export value of 15.7 billion euros worldwide. Trade relations have traditionally been strongest with France, the Netherlands and Great Britain. In 2018, exports rose by a further 8 percent. By international comparison, these three countries are preceded only by the USA, which purchased goods worth almost 1.5 billion euros in 2018 – an increase of 14 percent. “Investments in the USA rose in 2018 as a result of tax policy, which benefited German intralogistics manufacturers. How sustainable this is, however, remains open,” says Rosenbach.

Employment development and prospects

The positive economic development is also reflected in the number of employees. Estimated 128,000 employees were employed by German intralogistics companies in 2018 – an increase of 4 percent compared with the previous year. In view of full order books and longer project times in individual product areas, the trade association expects overall positive business development for the German intralogistics sector in 2019 as well. The technology leadership of the German manufacturers also supports the good demand. “But we cannot rest on our laurels. Industrie 4.0 demands further research and development work from us manufacturers for networked and intelligent intralogistics solutions,” says Rosenbach.