Evobot autonomous transport robot
© Fraunhofer IML / Michael Neuhaus
2023-10-01 VDE dialog

Smart logistics:“Technology needs to adapt to each individual person”

Dr. Jana Jost heads the Robotics and Cognitive Systems department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) in Dortmund. There, she works on a host of projects seeking to expand human-technology interaction in the logistics world and make the industry smarter. 

Interview: Manuel Heckel

VDE dialog - the technology magazine
Portrait photo of Dr. Jana Jost

Dr. Jana Jost Head of the Robotics and Cognitive Systems department at Fraunhofer IML

| Fraunhofer IML

VDE dialog: Human-technology interaction is introducing digital processes and new technologies to logistics. What’s the potential of these projects?

Dr. Jana Jost: In every industry, we’re noticing the impacts of demographic change and associated shortages of skilled workers. Technology can be used to support people at work. Robots can take over monotonous logistics tasks, and digitalization can help employees make decisions. Such innovations can take pressure off of people physically and mentally, and can therefore reduce sick days and improve workers’ health.

Many projects are currently trying to make the leap from the pilot stage to practical use. Why is the time now right for smart logistics projects?

The digitalization of logistics has made an immense leap in recent years due to the coronavirus pandemic and other crises. New technologies like artificial intelligence have also long come of age, and companies can now unleash their full potential through smart logistics projects. It’s the only way to make processes more efficient and satisfy customers’ high expectations.

New tools often encounter experienced staff and established processes. What obstacles need to be overcome here?

Employees all have different levels of experience and different needs. To support them in the best possible way, technology needs to adapt to each individual person. Otherwise they won’t accept it, and the related processes won’t be efficient. When introducing new technology, it’s important to get your workforce on board from the start and take their preferences into account. AI can also learn and improve based on the knowledge of experienced staff.