Adaptive IT describes a modular system for modelling software. Individual software components can be added or removed as required without affecting the existing system. This concept allows for a very high degree of flexibility in the planning of a facility and also permits further expansion stages in the medium and long term future.

For this reason, during the planning stage, it should be considered carefully which building blocks (= modules) are necessary to reliably solve all the required tasks of the first iteration of a facility. Not all conceivable modules and features are always useful and necessary at the beginning of a project.

Due to unawareness or misconceived security considerations, a catalogue of currently superfluous features is often ordered at the same time in order to have solutions for possible eventualities or to exclude possible later acquisition costs. These are the typical ‘belt plus suspenders investments’ that, in the worst case, permanently deprive a company of liquidity.

This planning problem is precisely where one of the striking economic and technical arguments of adaptive IT comes into play: One only ever orders the modules that are currently required.

Diagram for embedding intralogistics systems in IT
An intralogistics system never acts alone. It is always integrated into an IT landscape.

Consideration of Adaptive ITs economic efficiency

In economic terms, adaptive IT for a company means being able to transfer the development of business processes to the IT infrastructure in real-time – without having to invest heavily in potential further expansion paths.

If a new process is added, the corresponding module is acquired and implemented. If a task or requirement is dropped, the corresponding module is consequently eliminated.
The latter measure, which at first glance does not appear to be strictly necessary, will quickly reveal its financial benefits on closer inspection. With each omitted computing operation, the hardware is relieved and maintenance costs are reduced. For large warehouse solutions, this can quickly lead to noticeable budget relief.

Adaptive IT – Technological advantages for the life cycle

From a technical point of view, a major advantage of adaptive software is that the various modules can be expanded, modernized or replaced separately in the course of their lifecycles without causing any changes in interaction with the overall system.

An essential key to this adaptability, apart from the flexibility of the modules, is the consistent use of a central database. It is also the platform for every individual solution and ensures that information is always and immediately available where it is needed.

Adaptive IT in the distribution center

Adaptive IT follows the approach of breaking one large program down into many small program modules (= services). These are assembled in a similar way to building blocks.

The platform is created from these blocks consists of the following elements:

  • the database
  • the application programming interfaces to the program modules

Applied to the workflow of a distribution center, the following processes need to be considered:

  • Storage
  • Transport
  • Order processing

and the interfaces to super- and subordinate systems of the supply chain

Based on the knowledge that each warehouse will have similar processes, it makes sense to make the recurring processes of each distribution center reusable and easily adaptable.

Modular design of Adaptive IT in intralogistics.

In order for a customer-specific solution to succeed through reusable modules in a distribution center, however, the specific operational processes must also be understood and taken into account down to the last detail.

Adaptive IT in the context of Adaptive Enterprises

The structure of adaptive IT makes it possible for a digital ecosystem to adapt quickly to new conditions and circumstances.

For example:

Up to now, the acceptance of rush orders was excluded in a company or was only carried out in exceptional cases. Due to increased customer demand, however, this service is to become an integral part of the service portfolio in the future. This requires first the appropriate strategic decision and then the operational implementation. Here adaptive IT comes into play because, in the era of Industry 4.0, an adaptive company or an adaptive corporate culture is in most if not all cases built on an IT-based platform in its operational process flow. Using the adaptive elements, a new service is implemented quickly and overall efficiency is increased without having to change the IT landscape from scratch.


Adaptive IT in intralogistics describes the approach of implementing software in the form of a modular system (program modules/services) strategically, organizationally and technologically. By means of such modules, the IT in a distribution center, for example, is holistically and pragmatically aligned, while the individual components remain reusable.

Information on how to improve productivity, maintainability and software quality can be found in the article “The idea of modular software”

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