META’s Digital.Hub story

Kerstin Fiedler - 18.12.2020

Considering the statement "In the future, it will not just be about bending steel”, we came up with the idea that META should move into Digital.Hub Logistics in Dortmund. META proactively took up the challenge of digital transformation and looked at new ways of changing, extending or adding to our core business.

The move into Digital.Hub

Like so many medium-sized companies, META is not unaffected by digital innovations. So in 2018, it was agreed that META would have two of its employees move into the logistics location at Digital.Hub in Dortmund. Digital.Hub Logistics originates from an initiative taken by the German Bitkom Digital Association and is part of the Digital Hub Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Economy and Energy (BMWi), with a total of 12 hubs. At a distance of nearly 50 km from our main location at Arnsberg in the beautiful Sauerland, they were far enough away not to be distracted by our everyday business.

Events and activities

Networking with like-minded people and startups, with their innovative products and services, works best through events and activities. Although, at the start, it does not always feel like time meaningfully invested, networking mostly pays off at a later stage.



And that was the way it was with “The Smart Storage System Challenge by META”. As part of the Ruhr Summit under the heading “Big Corporates Looking For Innovative Solutions”, META set out a problem on which startups from around the world could compete. At the final, three startups selected by META were able to present their proposed solutions in the Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum. Besides bringing META great international visibility on the startup scene, this also gave META a significant image boost with young startups and potential partners. We were also able to establish contacts with startups and experts, and take the opportunity to tackle concrete pilot projects and build cooperations.


Innovation in-house

Different projects have been started with the aim of giving everyone at META the chance to learn a bit more about innovation and digitisation, Besides an innovation corner with the hypothesis and questions of the month about innovations, posts have been published on the internal intranet about the activities at Digital.Hub. Opportunities have also been provided to take part in events in order to learn about the new technologies.
“Go ahead and do it - it just might be a good one” (“Einfach mal machen – Es könnte ja gut werden”) was the slogan of the Transfer.Festival at Digital.Hub.
This set out a platform for industry, medium-sized businesses, researchers and up-and-coming talents, which demonstrated the latest digital innovations in logistics and IT. Networking with experts, problem-solvers and lateral thinkers, by building, planning, conceptualising, programming, puzzle solving, decrypting and debating was also on the agenda. It could also be about machine learning, data sovereignty, digital culture & transformation, an escape game or open problem discussion.

It was also shown:

    - how new technologies can be transferred in practice,
    - how new concepts and strategies strengthen your own company,
    - how scientific knowledge can give a company a pioneering role,
    - how new methods improve everyday work routines

and what value-added comes with networking and digitisation. A tour around the theme of research and implementation, and the use of drones in research, was also on offer.


Our own name - META AND YOU

Our own name was used in order to draw customers’ attention to META’s new activities on Digital.Hub. The META part represents our core business, and the AND YOU part refers to partner management. This should raise the level of awareness of META as new customer groups are won over by additional service offers. Besides flyers and marketing material, a homepage was also created where startups can register with META.



Best practice for startups - medium-sized businesses

Creativity meets expertise. Innovative services and products meet with established processes and networks: When startups work together with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it can be like worlds colliding. All those involved can learn from one another and derive numerous mutual benefits.
This is why META decided to explore new territory and develop partnerships with startups in order to open up new business areas.

One of the partners is MotionMiners GmbH in Dortmund. This startup specialises in automating and anonymising the analysis and optimisation of manual processes. Their concept is clear and consistent and the related technology is implemented in warehouses - just where META has its home ground. Through its large distribution network in Europe and the USA, META brings startups into contact with customers in the trade and industry sector, where their new products can be tested and generate feedback from customers. META thus provides startups with access to the market and our customers.

Another one of META’s partners is the Logistic Lights startup, which offers a flexible alternative to Put-to-Light and Pick-by-Light. This alternative system projects a light spot at the related storage bay from which items are to be removed or picked. Training is completed in five minutes, productivity increases immediately, and the projected light spot reduces worker fatigue. This leads to a higher pick/put rate and, above all, creates a more stable material flow. The simple handling brings greater acceptance and raises worker satisfaction. The essential difference is in the price. This solution from Logistic Lights is many times cheaper than Pick and Put by Light solutions.

In this way, we are sending our customers a clear signal that META is looking towards the future and putting the needs of its customers first.


Process optimisation with startups

META first tests the products and services of its partners before recommending them to its customers. And this is how it was with MotionMining technology.
We had a concrete project to relocate the small parts department to another factory. Using this technology, first of all data were collected from the small parts order picking area. With the collected data, we were able to create a solid basis for the layout planning. This data was evaluated with the aim of making a final proposal for the layout of the work tables, products and working equipment. Working along with the order pickers, shipment, and the logistics managers, the relocation was completed in one day. Besides having a sensible layout of the various working equipment, it was also possible to shorten the walking paths and thus make cost savings.


Let’s change the world of logistics!
We are looking for startups in the intralogistics area who can work with us to develop digital applications around the warehouse. If you want to share your vision with us, implement new ideas together, and create something valuable for the future, then we ought to get to know each other!

What we at META are offering startups:



  • Sales network in Europe and the USA. We can put your startup in contact with customers in the trade and industry sector, where your new products can be tested and feedback obtained from customers, thus giving you access to the market.
  • Entrepreneurial environment. As part of the JLU corporate group, META AND YOU also offers you concrete investment possibilities from the owners, and access to the network of the successful family business.
  • Silicon Valley Spirit. Through META AND YOU, we can put you in contact with researchers and allow you access to the testing areas of the scientific facilities in Dortmund. We can also put you in contact with other SMEs, and link startups with each other.

Our homepage:

portraet kerstin fiedler

About the author

Kerstin Fiedler has been with the META firm since June 2018 and looks after digital innovations and technologies. In addition to her work there, she also collaborates with startups in optimising the logistics processes.

In her free time, she likes to play sports and is a keen singer in a ladies’ a-cappella pop choir.