„On the Way to Becoming the Powerhouse of Industrial Automation“
Interview With Michael Alexander Schneider, CEO Idealworks
Published in German on September 29, 2023 in Wirtschaftsforum and online
What does the future of logistics look like? How can technology simplify complex supply chain and logistics challenges, and how does the intelligent automation platform AnyFleet coordinate the collaboration between different components? Join us in this Wirtschaftsforum interview with our CEO; Michael Alexander Schneider, as he unveils the secrets behind idealworks’ success.
Within many companies, intralogistics plays a very important role. Especially here, complex structures require simple and functional solutions. idealworks from Munich has specialized in these solutions. The combination of precisely coordinated, cloud-based control and intelligent transport units ensures optimal results.
“We come from the logistics industry, and we understand the concerns and needs of our clients very well,” explains Michael Alexander Schneider, CEO of idealworks. “For this reason, our customers are in the best hands with us. Many of them have been successfully using our solutions since 2015. Our robots, now in the 4th generation, offer an availability rate of 98.5%.”
“From the very beginning, we have approached logistics and production in a holistic manner,” describes the CEO. “And based on this approach, we have created an extremely powerful robotics ecosystem.” The central control element of this system is the intelligent automation platform called AnyFleet. It coordinates collaboration between humans, computer systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), and heterogeneous fleets of mobile robots and other peripheral devices. The automation platform can be quickly implemented and precisely adapted to the requirements of customers from various industries.
The actual transport work within the system is performed by the iw.hub. This autonomous mobile robot (AMR) is robust, reliable, and easy to operate and maintain. With its combination of industry-proven hardware and flexible software, it navigates safely – even in mixed traffic – and responds quickly to situations in its environment.
Its speed of 2.2 m/s makes it one of the fastest on the market. Additionally, it’s a real powerhouse. With a load capacity of up to one ton, it can handle the heaviest loads – such as steel boxes and pallets – and can be customized for specific applications using a Pallet Dock solution, whether for standard Euro pallets or customer-specific needs.”
The third element within the holistic intralogistics system is iw.os. This modular and adaptable robotics software stack enables numerous different functions, such as autonomous navigation, edge AI, hardware drivers, cloud connectors, and DevOps toolkit. Even third-party robots have access to this scalable and hardware-independent solution, thereby achieving significantly optimized performance.
Born Out of a Project
As early as 2015, the BMW Board of Management began contemplating what the future of intralogistics might look like. To advance this vision, the ‘Logistics NEXT’ project was launched. Its aim was to leverage embedded computing, enhance AI intelligence, and establish new partnerships. The results of these deliberations were honored with the German Logistics Award in 2019. In the fall of 2020, the project evolved into a spin-off, which has since operated as a 100% BMW subsidiary, yet completely independently and autonomously in all business processes. Currently, it employs around 90 employees from a wide range of disciplines and nationalities.
“Besides our parent company BMW, we collaborate with various industries and companies,” explains CEO Michael Alexander Schneider. “As a result, our solutions can be found, among others, at Zalando, one of the leading online platforms for fashion and lifestyle in Europe, in the logistics and transportation company Geis, and with the automotive supplier Dräxlmaier.” The primary market for idealworks is Europe, with a focus on Austria, France, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom. Initial customer projects have also been executed in North America.
“Our distribution is divided into two parts,” says the CEO. “We have our own direct sales channel and participate in trade shows, conferences, and events to increase our visibility. For over a year, we have also been utilizing distribution channels such as Linde Material Handling and STILL GmbH. As a software company, we also have partnerships with third-party companies that contribute to our distribution efforts.” Additionally, idealworks is present at specialized trade shows such as LogiMAT in Stuttgart, automatica in Munich, and SITL in Paris. In October, the company will be represented at the Logistics Summit in Düsseldorf.
Driven by Innovation
From the beginning, idealworks has placed great importance on sustainability. Manufacturing facilities are located nearby, and the company prioritizes short supply chains. The packaging materials used are also 100% recyclable. Sustainability is also ingrained in the culture at idealworks. Michael Alexander Schneider says, “What unites us all here is the idea of revolutionizing logistics. idealworks stands for trust, development, clear results orientation, and well-being for employees and customers alike. We aim to create ‘Wow moments.’ We are driven by innovation, maintain a positive culture around learning from mistakes, and communicate directly and openly with each other.”
The continuous development of the robotics ecosystem is a top priority for the CEO: “We are working on additional complex use cases and simulations based on AI that allow us to rapidly create digital twins of factories and industrial facilities. We aim to become the powerhouse of industrial automation, promote interoperability between robots – including those from other manufacturers – and sensors, and further expand our partnerships.”
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As a forward-thinking deep tech company, idealworks has been enabling the future of logistics and industrial automation since November 2020. Its flexible, scalable robotics ecosystem, featuring the intelligent automation platform AnyFleet for seamless mobile robot integration, the CE-certified autonomous mobile robot (AMR) iw.hub, and the advanced robotics operating system iw.os, is reshaping intralogistics processes for companies globally. Emerging from its roots as a BMW Group spinoff, idealworks is committed to driving efficiency and operational optimization in a rapidly evolving automation landscape.
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