Good in-plant logistics are important in any manufacturing facility. The better the logistics, the more smoothly production can run and easier it will be for the manufacturer to get their products out to their customers, or to the consumer, in time.

Below is a look at in-plant logistics, why they’re important and what the benefits of good plant in-logistics are, plus a discussion of production management and how you can improve your own in-plant logistics by incorporating one of our automated loading solutions into your processes. We start by discussing what in-plant logistics are.

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what are in-plant logistics?

In-plant logistics describes the movement of raw materials, components and sub-assemblies (units that are assembled but which are going to form part of a larger unit) within the manufacturing plant of a company for transformation into finished goods. This can be to/from the stocking points, or to/from the line side, for the transformation into the finished goods. In-plant logistics also entails managing the goods when they’re finished and have come out of production.

The following three factors are all of major importance in in-plant logistics:

  • The infrastructure: By ‘infrastructure’, and in the context of in-plant logistics, we mean the physical facilities of the plant. At the time of a plant start-up, the business will pay special attention to the building because it’s such a large cost for the company, if not the biggest. Unfortunately, often the manufacturer will only plan the workflow and layout after the construction of the building has been completed, but there must be space for flexibility and customisation.
  • Organisation: The organisation of the building has a significant impact on the workflow and should be designed for shorter lead times and optimised movement of inventory.
  • System: ‘System’ refers to the storage and handling systems the manufacturer uses in their logistics. The equipment they use must be based on the requirements of the activity. Here, warehouse management systems (WMSs), radio frequency (RF) technology and the integration of barcodes with an ERP system all come into their own. They can provide almost completely accurate data on the operator’s workforce, inventory and order location. Their value is immense.

the benefits of in-plant logistics

Managing the logistics inside your plant well is essential. Get it right and you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Greater productivity.
  • Higher levels of efficiency, as operators will work in a more orderly manner, in more comfort and with the help of some automation.
  • More control over the pieces. You know how many there are and where they are in the plant at each moment of the process.
  • Achievement of customer loyalty because the final recipient has received the goods on time.
  • Lower costs because you put right errors quicker that could harm the operation of the plant.

A good in-plant logistics system will help you determine the overall delivery time. That includes the transportation and handling of goods. You’re able to form an all-inclusive view about the whole process of what happens to semi-finished goods within a plant when they’re sent to a production line and then, when finished, to a storage area in the manufacturing facility.

This is all possible when you have a strong in-plant logistics system in place. The system then enhances the overall performance of the business. It will also make the whole process more agile, making management of the supply chain smoother, faster and more cost-effective.

why are in-plant logistics important?

Good in-plant logistics are hugely important. They help companies to boost their revenue by providing a holistic scenario for their customers, and by making information such as timelines, product availability, costs and efficiencies available. The success of the system will depend on how well you manage activities inside your manufacturing plant, from the inflow of the raw materials and the production process, through to making information available for customers.

Some third-party logistics (3PL) service providers will help you achieve movement of raw materials to stocking points, or from them, for processing into finished goods. They’ll also assist you in carrying the finished goods out to the factory gate. Some will support the process by supplying the right parts to the line side for incorporation into an item either already in production or in sub-assembly. This ensures the right parts go to the manufacturing line in sequence and do so at the right time.

The overall aim of in-plant logistics is to achieve the utmost customer satisfaction by focusing on the order and product delivery time. Not only this, but it’s about the availability of products to a large number of people, generating higher value for customers.

Good in-plant logistics will reduce lead times and, at the same time, increase productivity by delivering the products directly to the installation location. This enables you to meet the customer’s demands and still make a significant profit.

Strong in-plant logistics make a massive contribution to the growth of a business and to its marketing. The logistics adds time and location conveniences to goods so that customers get value for their money.

on time and in the right order

When you’re producing different goods, you’ll require different materials, different commodities and different machinery for production. The production plant of a medical engineering manufacturer is highly unlikely to have all the same needs as a coal-powered plant.

Stagnations eat up your time and your money, and this applies both to production and upstream processes; if you manage your warehouse efficiently, however, you can minimise costs and meet quantity targets without causing any disruptions to the supply chain.

As products become more and more complex, manufacturers are experiencing more and more logistical requirements. They must deal with lots of components, and this has an impact on the processes for filling the material container and delivering it to the workbench. A good IT interface will allow you to see the latest warehouse inventory and volumes, and you can equip your production lines (or assembly lines) with materials just in time or just in sequence.

production management

Production management is the planning and control of industrial processes to ensure they move smoothly at the necessary level. In manufacturing, this includes responsibility for product and process design, planning and control issues, such as quality and capacity, and organisation and supervision of the workforce.

The responsibilities of a production management exist along five main lines:

  • human capital;
  • machines;
  • materials;
  • methods;

People management is one of the main responsibilities of production management. This is because the large majority of manufacturing employees work in the physical production of the goods.

The selection of the methods and the machinery for production is another big production management responsibility. First, the production manager (or production management team) will select them; and then they’ll plan and control the procedures for usage of them. Workers must be able to adapt to the equipment, and the process must be flexible. Schedules are also important in this phase of production management.

Where materials are concerned, a production manager will be responsible for the management of flow processes. That includes both the physical flow of materials and the flow of information (paperwork). The fundamental choices made in the design of the product and in the process will play a major part in determining how smoothly resources and data move.

When it comes to the financial side of things, using assets and financing is the issue, and it’s one most manufacturers have. If a production manager lets large inventories build up, or if they achieve level production at the expense of timely delivery and good customer service, potential overinvestment or high costs could cancel out any competitive advantage the business has obtained.

Planning and control

Control is possibly the most important issue for production management. A production manager must plan and control production so it runs smoothly and delivers the necessary level of output while still meeting cost and quality targets. This control has two main purposes:

1.   to make sure the business is conducting operations in line with the plan;

2.   to monitor and evaluate production continuously to see if the business can make any changes that will bring production closer to cost, quality, delivery, flexibility or other aims.

Inventory control

Inventory control is another critical part of production management. An inventory can include raw materials, component parts, work in process, finished goods, packaging materials, packing materials and general supplies. Even though making effective use of financial resources isn’t part of a production manager’s responsibilities, a lot of companies that have large inventories will place the inventory under the responsibility of the production manager.

Managing an inventory well is crucial for a business’s success. Not storing an item can cause delays while the manufacturer waits for a specific part, but carrying an item in every facility can tie up massive amounts of capital and cause stock to pile up that eventually becomes obsolete and unusable. To navigate inventory control, production managers often use mathematical models and computer systems developed by industrial engineers and operations researchers.

Managing labour costs

Production managers must measure the amount of work it takes, and the type, to manufacture a product; then they must specify well-designed methods for accomplishing the necessary task(s). This is to manage costs.

It’s especially important in new operations to anticipate human resource requirements and translate them into training programmes so the business has a skilled collection of operators as the machinery and other equipment undergoes installation. It’s also essential to hire, train and equip specialised groups for support services, including equipment maintenance, plant services, production scheduling and control activities. Planning carefully like this diminishes the chances of equipment not being put to use and of a waste of time, effort and materials during start-up and regular operations.

shuttle runs between plants and distribution centres

Of course, manufacturers must store goods before order fulfilment and then transfer them between the plant and the warehouse, distribution centre or other storage facility. Some even hire local trucking services for it. If you’re looking to add off-site warehousing to your supply chain, you may wish to consider the benefits of outsourcing the shuttle service between the plant and the distribution centre.

Take the frozen foods industry, for instance. Frozen goods need proper handling to retain their quality. The trucks must be constructed, insulated and equipped with suitable refrigeration capacity and air delivery systems to maintain the cold temperatures necessary for them. Buying a truck would be expensive, whereas hiring a shuttle service would keep costs down.

Even transferring dry goods from the end of the production line to an off-site facility calls for staff, logistics planning, waste disposal, technology and communication. Manufacturers can free themselves of this type of overhead by hiring a shuttle service.

In the manufacturing industry, having an inventory of easily accessible surplus parts means operating continuous production cycles when required. This must be without depending on supplier inventory, without experiencing downtime and without suffering reputational damage on account of not meeting the customer’s deadline. Establishing a relationship with a 3PL that can store goods correctly; and then with a shuttle service provider; can help solve this problem.  

This isn’t the only solution, however.

A lot of tasks in intralogistics are performed manually or in milk runs. A lot of concepts centre around the continuous supply of workstations with material, which is why a lot of central warehouses have additional warehouses close to production. The problem with this is that stocks increase as a result.

One renowned concept is the use of a tugger train for the lean provision of components and assemblies. The use of the tugger trains comes with its disadvantages, though. Firstly, manual unloading or semi-automatic loading of the tugger trains may result in low capacity utilisation; and secondly, this movement of goods increases the potential for accidents for people and transport systems. The operator must record transport requirements manually, which leads to longer replenishment times and delivery of the wrong parts, and requests don’t go into an ERP system. One core issue for manufacturers is ensuring warehouses receive information on time so the operator can replenish the production lines in a timely fashion.

Here the use of robots and shuttle systems comes in handy. Of course, shuttle systems also play a major role in order fulfilment and replenishment. Storage facilities low on space, rather than use forklift trucks to retrieve palletised goods and other items, can use shuttle systems for their replenishment and order fulfilment operations. Shuttle systems make it possible to retrieve pallets from deep storage racks and, as a result, for businesses to increase their efficiency in dense storage areas, and to make full use of their storage space by expanding the height and the depth of their racking.

optimising plant logistics with a Joloda Hydraroll automated loading system

To keep things moving smoothly and efficiently, manufacturers run a tight ship: materials must be where they need to be when they need to be. We can support you with this through the use of our Automated Loading Systems, helping you to unload materials from truck trailers for transportation to the required part of your storage facility, or to load your truck with your finished products.

This isn’t just about transferring your items from one place to another efficiently, however; when you incorporate our systems into your logistics, you can conduct your operations safely, even when working with high volumes of goods. The automated nature of the systems also means your raw materials or products are unlikely to suffer much damage, if any at all, during loading or unloading.

Moving Floor 5

moving floor conveyor system

The Moving Floor conveyor system is flexible and heavy duty. Whether you’re wanting to transport tyres in an automotive plant, whisky barrels in a brewery or other non-palletised goods, the moving floor conveyor system is up to the task. It can handle pallets of any size, and within minutes of beginning to unload or load your trailer, you’ll have completed the task. You can connect this system up to a production line conveyor and load the materials onto the moving floor, or do so with an autonomous guided vehicle (AGV) or forklift truck.

The system’s complete end-of-line automation helps you to make more efficient use of your human resources, as workers won’t need to enter the trailer to load or unload it, in a forklift truck or otherwise. They just need to load the system itself and then leave it up to the conveyor to take care of the rest.

Moving Floor
Slipchain WHO (2)


The heavy-duty Slipchain Loading System combines a rise-and-fall pneumatic chain with a rollertrack and reduces the operational costs of your loading and unloading since there is no need for forklift trucks or workers to enter the trailer. This system rewards you with major efficiency, allowing you to complete loading or unloading of up to 26 pallets into your trailer, or from it, in minutes. Working with the slipchain is much quicker than conventional solutions, which can take as much as 30 minutes to complete the task.

The modular design of the slipchain means you’ll only have to make minor changes to your trailer or to your manufacturing facilities to integrate it. The slipchain is straightforward to integrate — we can help you with this — and versatile. You can connect it to the conveyor of your production line or, if you prefer, load materials or other goods onto the slipchain using an AGV or forklift truck.

PHOTO 2018 07 28 18 26 20


Although the Trailerskate is especially suitable for businesses in the fast moving consumer goods (FMGC) industries and packaging industries; has helped them to boost their speed and output; and to operate more safely; this automated solution works well for many businesses. It’s simple but effective and consists of just four tracks on the floor. Long skates conduct all the loading and unloading, with a Riserplate system creating the lift.

The trailerskate makes it easy to perform high volume loading and unloading safely and quickly, and you’ll complete the task in minutes. The non-necessity of workers and forklift trucks entering the trailer helps you to reduce costs and make more efficient use of your human capital.


Warehouse Workers Hivis

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When organised and implemented correctly, in-plant logistics can boost the revenue from your operations and the efficiency from them. If you’re reviewing your own in-plant logistics and would like to incorporate one of our automated solutions into your processes, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to advise you on the right system for your facility.

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In the scenario that a business produces and ships a high number of pallets each day, we’ve put together an automated loading system typical business case example to help explain the benefits and how an ROI can be achieved with the investment of an automated loading system.

If a business is running a shuttle run from a factory to a warehouse and back again, they’ll benefit from an automated loading system with fewer people, trucks and forklifts.

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the benefits of automated loading systems

Working with an automated loading system brings with it many advantages for your business. It gives you an opportunity to increase efficiency, enhance worker safety, make room for flexibility and add savings. 

There are a variety of reasons why it is of benefit to rationalise as to whether the investment and The Benefits of Automated Loading Systems is worthwhile for so many businesses. Automated loading systems also have a longer lifespan, which provides your business with a higher return on investment. We’ve drawn on some of our most popular benefits here…

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