Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Logistics form heart of smart cities, says Advantech

Steve Rogerson
November 13, 2018



Without intelligent logistics, the smart city concept does not work, Michael Kreft (pictured), executive sales director at Advantech, told delegates at his company’s IoT Co-Creation Summit this month in Suzhou, China.
 
“The challenge we are facing is the growth in infrastructure,” he said. “We need to manage the information and we need smart flexible logistics and transportation.”
 
He said there was a sense of urgency because of the way digitalisation was changing the way logistics were done.
 
“The technology is there but the old business models do not work,” he said. “We need new collaborations and co-creation. We have to make it happen, bring it to life and then expand it, otherwise it will be too complex. Partnerships are key and we really take them seriously.”
 
His colleague, Andreas Baumann (pictured below), a business development manager for the Taiwanese company, took this to more specifics of managing the entrances and exits of smart warehouses.
 

 
“These can take a lot of manual effort,” he said. “Security checks, freight information, new truck drivers not knowing where to go. We need to optimise the whole process. We need information about licence plates, what type of truck it is, from where. We need to check for damages and hazardous materials.”
 
He described a prototype system that is being investigated now at a live warehouse and will be offered as a product early next year.
 
Five cameras at the entrance gates get a full image of the lorry, trailer, licence plates and so on. As the lorry passes by, the cameras record the whole vehicle and any existing damage and scans for hazardous material signs.
 
“These will be used to decide if the truck is allowed to enter,” said Baumann. “The system then continues with yard management and helps the truck find its gate. It can also spot if damage is done at the gate and who was responsible.”
 
Inside the warehouse, real-time tracking of goods is deployed, even down to the correct height for autonomous forklift trucks. The goods are scanned so the system always knows where they are and where they need to go.
 
“We have x-y-z coordinated of every goods that are moved,” said Baumann. “We know exactly where your goods are.”
 
What can help with this is a quick barcode scanning system from Swiss machine-vision company Scandit.
 
“We can scan barcodes quickly using a smartphone,” said David Downey (pictured below), senior director at Scandit. “It can also be implemented into other camera devices. Any device with a camera can read barcodes.”
 

 
The system can be linked into existing IT and infrastructure and to Scandit’s dashboards to give users the necessary information.
 
“This can be used as part of a smart logistics system or for smart shelf management,” said Downey. “We want to make the technology available on as many different devices as possible. And we want to expand it to object and people recognition to add real value to the supply chain.”