Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Geodis and Delta develop warehouse inventory drone

Steve Rogerson
April 21, 2020

Logistics company Geodis and civilian drone maker Delta Drone have put more than three years of research into developing Countbot, a drone-based warehouse inventory checker.
The two French companies created the stabilised automated system that includes a drone and can be used for inventory checking and control. Inventory can be checked in real time, without human intervention other than a supervising operator and without any special equipment.
Countbot is the result of over three years of R&D and testing to create a reliable automated inventory service that does not require any additional stationary equipment inside the warehouse and is safe, protecting both people and property.
“Inventory is a time-consuming activity and can be risky for humans, requiring operations to be shut down and the rental of personnel lifts,” said Romain Cauvet, global engineering director at Geodis. “With Geodis Countbot, inventory can now be carried out quickly, automatically and safely.”
In terms of performance, the first assignments performed in real time in a 10,000m2 warehouse allowed the companies to estimate inventory time at under three hours instead of the one to two days it used to take.
The product combines a robot, a telescopic mast that can reach up to 10m and a drone that ensures the stability and therefore the quality of the images collected. It has been the subject of several patent applications.
The 16 high-resolution cameras are positioned along the mast. The unit moves automatically through the aisles, following trajectories entered beforehand in the robot’s memory thanks to an initial full mapping of the site. As it moves, the cameras photograph the pallet barcodes and detect anomalies, if any. All the data are then reported to the warehouse management system.
From an operational and commercial standpoint, the partners plan to deploy the product progressively to warehouses around the world, whether or not they are Geodis warehouses. In Europe, sales of the systems will benefit from the support and existing network of Ott Ventures, Delta Drone’s reference shareholder, representing close to five million square metres in warehouse space and industrial sites in various countries, in particular the Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands and Russia.
Geodis has a direct presence in 67 countries, and a global network spanning 120 countries. It has more than 41,000 employees globally and generates €8.2bn in annual sales.