Based on the »Internet of Things« development approach, logistics concepts are analyzed to design processes, technologies, standards and software with regard to identifying, locating and controlling load carriers. An architecture model will help to integrate the new load carrier generation in our existing storage technology. At the hardware level, new dual frequency RFIT transponders are being developed that connect UHF and HF technologies for the first time and which take the special characteristics and requirements of the four main means of transport into account: air, road, rail and sea. A comprehensive multi-modal concept is being developed with intelligent reusable load carriers to optimize the entire supply chain. The concept implements technologies which are compatible and available around the world.
Motivation and Background
The present is characterized by networked structures, a large variety of decision-making processes and increasing complexity. This situation is particularly apparent in logistics. Bananas come from Venezuela, trainers from China and natural resources from the Middle East. Global value added chains are not uncommon anymore and require all stakeholders to work together closely. Where does the container from Dubai have to go? When is delivery of the new collection due? Is there sufficient quantity in stock? In the future a new form of coordination will direct the flow of goods and answer all of these questions for us.
Time and cost saving factors play a key role in logistics. Smoothly running, predictable procedures and reduced waiting times are the most important targets for all logistics processes. The demands being made on these procedures are growing and require much more flexibility. Everything must happen within the smallest time slots and global deliveries are still expected to arrive just in time.
Global trade and, consequently, goods flows are constantly growing. Whether the goods are in a container or on a pallet, load carriers are one of the most important resources in logistics. They combine individual items to form one unit and allow for improved consolidation. The benefits to be gained from optimized consignments can only be generated by taking all interfaces into account. It is necessary to have seamless inter-company processes which include logistics providers and suppliers. Load carriers all too frequently seem to enter into some kind of black box and their content is only revealed when they are opened. The costs for the multiple receipt of goods can be avoided if the content and destination of the load carriers remains transparent throughout their journey. Coordinating goods flows is a real challenge which so far has only been coped with by applying complicated algorithms and calculations. Deliveries are coordinated via central control systems. In reality the mathematical optimum loses any meaning it might have had back in the lab. Fast decisions are required as soon as procedures which have been planned in theory are interrupted,.
Together with its partners Deutsche Post AG, Rewe-Informations-Systeme GmbH, Mars Services GmbH, CHEP Deutschland GmbH, Lufthansa Cargo AG and Infineon Technologies AG the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML is developing an inter-industry and inter-supply chain approach for intelligent material flows. According to the development approach embedded in the »Internet of Things«, the objects in this project are able to find their own way through the logistics network all on their own. Standardized development architectures for AutoID technologies and IT services simplify implementation immensely. These intelligent load carriers find their target almost automatically and choose alternative routes in bottleneck situations by using RFID, localization technology and barcodes. At the same time, contactless readouts of the shipment information guarantee transparency. The results of the project are intended, on the one hand, to deliver logistics concepts for shaping processes, technologies, standards and software for identifying, localising and controlling load carriers and, on the other hand, platform-independent modules that simplify later implementation. An architecture model is intended to support the integration of new generation load carriers into existing warehouse technology. At hardware level new dual-frequency RFID transponders are being developed that can connect UHF and HF technologies for the first time and which take the special characteristics and requirements of the four main means of transport into account: air, road, rail and sea. A comprehensive multi-modal concept is being developed with intelligent reusable load carriers to optimize the entire supply chain. This concept implements technologies which are already compatible and available around the world.