Saving energy in warehouses

Innovation project: Intelligent drive and control technology for energy-efficient intralogistics

Due to the globalization of trade and the rise in internet sales, there is a growing need for effective and efficient logistics processes. To ensure a smooth flow of goods, warehouses use fully automated storage and distribution systems. These intralogistics services are carried out using a large number of control systems with electrical drives. In the past, businesses have given little consideration to their energy consumption as the energy savings do not make the investment in new drives financially worthwhile. However, energy consumption has now become a major cost factor in light of rising energy costs and the increasing complexity of intralogistics. Until now, there has been too little attention paid to the great potential savings offered by innovative, intelligent drive solutions and intelligent load management.

The aim of the research project is to develop an intelligent modular system for efficient drive solutions, making it possible to provide the most environmentally-friendly and economical solution for every warehouse drive process. In addition to this, intelligent load management should be developed to ensure that the power supply grid is evenly utilized.

In order to do so, the energy consumption of intralogistics drive components in existing warehouses and logistics centers – including invertors, motors, gears and mechatronic units – is systematically calculated and analyzed. The results are used to produce energy efficiency and cost classifications, and serve as a basis for developing new intelligent components. Further developments include tools that allow drive technology to be designed in a way that takes into account and optimizes its impact on the electrical grid. These are combined to create an intelligent load management system for warehouses. The project draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, intelligent networking and energy efficiency. The drive components and intelligent load management system are tested in pilot warehouses before being implemented as standard.

The project allows energy consumption in warehouses to be considerably reduced without compromising quality or cost-effectiveness. Energy savings of at least 15% are expected with little or no increase in investment. With intelligent load management, the power supply grid is used to optimum capacity, and load peaks are avoided. The new solutions promote growth and employment, with around 70 new jobs expected among project partners and service providers alone. In this way, the project makes an important contribution to the competitiveness of intralogistics suppliers and service providers based in Germany.

Project duration
01 October 2012 - 30 September 2015