Pallets, crates or containers are essential for transporting all kinds of products, but they hardly get the spotlight.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a software that tracks and makes visible the path of cargo carriers. This offers enormous opportunities for the logistics industry to improve efficiency. Through Logistikbude, the Fraunhofer researchers even founded their own spin-off company. Pallets, crates, containers, racks and containers play a vital role in the transport of goods. According to data from the German Federal Statistical Office, approximately 101 million sheet pallets (euro pallets) were produced in Germany in 2020. The Fraunhofer IIS center for applied research on supply chain services has calculated that the German logistics industry generates a total of €280 billion in gross revenue. This makes it one of the largest economic sectors in Germany. However, while the whereabouts of the goods are accurately recorded and tracked, the cargo carriers themselves have so far received much less attention. They are often left unattended in warehouses for days, which reduces efficiency. A researcher at Fraunhofer’s logistics institute in Dortmund, Dr. Philipp Wrycza, Patrik Elfert, Jan Möller and Michael Koscharnyj, developed a software solution and recently founded their own spin-off company, which they defined as “Logistikbude”, i.e. “logistics convenience store”. Wrycza even wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject of euro pallets at Fraunhofer. The web-based software first generates a label for each load carrier and creates a digital file. At the same time, returnable cargo carriers – pallets, containers, racks, containers, crates – are equipped with barcodes or active sensors. The smartphone application, available for Android or iOS, uses the label to record individual cargo carriers before transport and also when the goods arrive at their destination. The app also allows you to make additional posts about their status. This data is then instantly synchronized with the web-based software platform. In addition to tracking cargo carriers by scanning, it is also possible to record quantities. The customer or the consignee of the goods can also access the invoice and record, for example, when the goods have been unloaded and the pallets are ready for return or for the delivery of other goods. In this way, a common exchange account is created, on which business partners inform each other about the current status of cargo carriers. If the already emptied cargo carriers were not returned immediately, a reminder e-mail will be sent automatically. The solution has been ready and operational since January 2022. “Until now, many companies often didn’t even know where their own cargo carriers were at any given moment, for example. Now they can see where they are and when they will be returned at any time. This makes planning easier. The accelerated traffic ultimately guarantees that there are fewer cargo carriers overall must be purchased. And this contributes to increasing the sustainability of the sector,” says Wrycza. Load carriers can also be equipped with various sensors. These can record values such as geographic location, temperature or humidity. This may also enable, for example, information to be provided on the condition of the food transported on them. Fraunhofer researchers have made the software extremely user-friendly. No need to customize your system. “We set aside one day for the training, and after that the customer can get started immediately,” promises Wrycza.Hardware, software, tests, interesting and colorful news from the IT world by clicking here!