Blue Competence - Energy-efficient material handling systems

In the scope of the Blue Competence sustainability initiative of VDMA, GEBHARDT takes on board complete responsibility for economy, ecology and society. The objective is minimisation of the energy and resource consumption by innovative technology.

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. Optimisation that only includes individual components utilises only a small part of the optimisation potential. In intralogistics the overall system must be monitored. One example of this is the GEBHARDT dynamic handover system. The combination of shuttle and ASRS technology increases efficiency considerably. 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 centre more efficient.

The Initiative Blue Competence

We are Alliance Member of the Sustainability Initiative Blue Competence. Blue Competence ( is an initiative of the VDMA ( for promoting and communication of sustainable solutions forthe Mechanical Engineering Industry. By using the trademark “Blue Competence”, we commit ourselves to these twelve Sustainability Guidelines of the Mechanical Engineering Industry:

PREAMBLE: Our comprehension of trendsetting sustainability is based on the principles of economic success, fairness, respect & responsibility and includes the dimensions of society, ecology & economy. We comprehend sustainable action in terms of the definition of the Brundtland-report1 and the definitions of the German “Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung2“.

1.    Sustainability is a crucial part of our company strategy.
2.    We create solid business schemes with sustainable values and secure entrepreneurial success.
3.    Our technologies and solutions promote worldwide sustainable developments.

4.    Sustainable thinking and action are represented in our processes and products.
5.    We act with consideration of resources and stand up for climate protection.
6.    Our staff is our most valuable asset. We promote engagement and participation.
7.    We stand up for keeping the human rights.

8.    Our company is a habitat.
9.    We take responsibility in our region.
10.  We do, what we promise!

11.    We actively cultivate the network with all participants.
12.    We transparently communicate our sustainable action.


Brundtland-report, 1987: „Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.“

Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, 2001: „Sustainable development means to consider ecological aspects equal to social and economic aspects. Therefore, sustainable economy means: For our children and grandchildren, we must leave behind us a sound ecological and economic structure.“

Light-weight construction

The GEBHARDT products are developed with the declared objective of implementing light-weight construction. GEBHARDT engineers can use comprehensive simulation tools like FEM for this. Use of innovative materials and fabricating procedures are a matter of course. The composite material of the SRM Cheetah is the living proof of our aims.

Dynamics adjustment

The energy usage in logistics centres 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 analyse the order loading and automatically adjust the dynamic values of the warehouse technology.

Energy recovery

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%.


Smart software for saving energy comprise various functions. In addition to the dynamics adjustment, the path to be travelled must be minimised, 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 optimised for each individual application.

Interim circuit coupling

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. Amortisation with pallet handling ASRS is at approx. 2 years. 

Continuous improvement

Energy consumption of a logistics centre 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, visualised and monitored before the process is instigated.

Options for optimising energy consumption

The energy consumption depends not only on the automatic conveyor and warehouse technology. The larger part of the energy consumption refers to heating/ventilation, lighting and other building services. Therefore, an integrated approach is needed if energy consumption should be reduced. The building technology is important in addition to the conveyor and warehouse technology. The processes and procedures in the operation also have a major influence.


GEBHARDT Fördertechnik GmbH
GEBHARDT - The efficiency principle
GEBHARDT Warehouse technology