Energy Efficiency In Intralogistics: Lowering Costs, Protecting The Environment.

In the scope of the Blue Competence sustainability initiative of VDMA, an intralogistics technology supplier takes on board responsibility for economy, ecology and society. The objective is minimization of the energy and resource consumption by innovative Technology.

Opportunities for optimization of energy consumption
Energy consumption not only depends on the automatic conveyor and warehouse technology. The greater part of the energy consumption relates to heating/ventilation, lighting and other consumers. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a holistic approach when energy consumption should be reduced. Beside to the conveyor and warehouse technology the building technology is important. The processes and procedures of the operation of an automated system also have great influence.

Lowering costs, protecting the environment

The Blue Competence initiative of the VDMA helps to find sustainable products and companies who adopt sustainability. GEBHARDT decided early on to place its products and services under the Blue Competence flag of the VDMA. It has always been our objective to develop machines that keep the energy consumption as low as possible. This objective becomes more and more important particularly in times of increasing energy prices. GEBHARDT combines innovative software with advanced mechanics to achieve this objective. Optimization that only includes individual components utilizes only a small part of the optimization potential. In intralogistics the overall system must be monitored. The reduction of energy consumption often goes hand in hand with the also welcome effect of wear reduction. Both together reduce the operating costs and make the logistics center more efficient.

Suppliers of automated intralogistics systems have many opportunities to influence the energy consumption of the logistics center:

Light-weight construction

Especially in the area of warehouse technology it is important to implement targeted lightweight, because the reduction of the moving mass is the first step to reduce energy consumption. Extensive simulation tools, such as FEM, are necessary in the product development. This leads to the use of innovative materials and bonding techniques, such as gluing. The composite-miniload Cheetah is the pioneer in this industry here.

Dynamic adjustment / run on demand

The energy usage in logistics centers and thus also in automatic small-parts storage can fluctuate considerably during the course of the day. There is a great savings potential here. Smart dynamics adjustment allows for energy saving particularly in the traveling axis. Smart algorithms analyze the order loading and automatically adjust the dynamic parameters of the warehouse technology. Also conveyor technology should only run if there is something to convey. Therefore it is important to integrate an intelligent shutdown of drives. The dynamics of the conveyor system can be adapted to the order situation. Intelligent software ensures that the performance of several intralogistics components is synchronized and matched to each other. So, only the energy is consumed, which is actually needed.

Interim circuit coupling at AS/RS

The interim circuit coupling represents smart control of the traveling and lifting axis. The objective is to achieve the minimum traveling and lifting time for a maximum number of double cycles with the minimum energy consumption. The energy that is released, e.g. when the traveling axis is braked, is diverted to the lifting axis to supply the required movement of the lifting axis. This solution pays off immediately and reduces energy consumption by up to 20%.

Energy recovery at AS/RS

The energy generated in the movement and positioning energy released in the system is connected via the mains feedback device and the interim circuit of the frequency inverters. Generated energy that cannot be used in another axis can be fed back into the mains. This technology permits ASRS to save up to 50 % energy. Amortization with pallet handling ASRS is at approx. 2 years.


Smart software for saving energy comprise various functions. In addition to the dynamics adjustment, the path to be travelled must be minimized, e.g. by ABC analysis. The work load management can ensure that auxiliary processes like relocations are performed in times of low work load, e.g. at night. The storage and relocation strategies must be optimized for each individual application.

Continuous improvement

Energy consumption of a logistics center can be continually improved. The improvement process must be continually revised and updated. The starting point is the evaluation of consumption data, followed by a search for potential improvements. Efficiency is increased once potential savings are identified. The results must be measured, visualized and monitored before the process is instigated.