Dachser and Fraunhofer Work Successfully on Digital Twin
2/20/2024 New Creations Machinery Change Innovative Processes Article

Dachser and Fraunhofer Work Successfully on Digital Twin

In future, Dachser will automatically record every piece of cargo in its transshipment warehouses. The digital twin of a location created in this way provides the logistics company with real-time data to work more efficiently. Alongside the Fraunhofer IML, the company received the German Logistics Award for this technology.

Dachser: Warehouse worker transports cardboard box with forklift truck. Logistics company Dachser and Fraunhofer IML were awarded the German Logistics Prize 2023 for a jointly developed digital twin.

Dachser equips its transshipment warehouses with digital twins. The logistics service provider has developed the "@ILO" (Advanced Indoor Localization and Operations) solution in cooperation with Fraunhofer IML over several years and has already tested it at the pilot sites in Unterschleißheim and Öhringen. Dachser and Fraunhofer IML were awarded the German Logistics Prize 2023 for the new technology.

"With @ILO, we are improving transparency in the transshipment warehouse. We are now leaving the pilot status and going into rollout," said Stefan Hohm, Chief Development Officer at Dachser, at the presentation of the technology at the Öhringen site near Heilbronn. Over the next few years, all transshipment warehouses with an area of 2,000 square meters or more will gradually receive the technology, reported the Lebensmittelzeitung. The Erlensee food location in the Rhine-Main region and the warehouse in Überherrn in the Saarland are next in line. Copenhagen recently became the first location abroad to receive the technology upgrade.

For the technology, Dachser is equipping a transshipment warehouse with hundreds of optical scanning units on the ceiling. These automatically record a 2D data matrix code on the top of the unit load as soon as it enters the warehouse. The industrial trucks are also equipped with codes. When a vehicle approaches a pallet, the @ILO software recognizes and links both parties. The driver receives all relevant information about the shipment on his display. "Nobody has to get off the vehicle to scan the package. Everything is recorded centrally and there are no more system disruptions," explains Volker Lange from Fraunhofer IML. Lange heads the Enterprise Lab in which Dachser and the research institute have developed the solution over the past few years.

In addition to identification and localization, the @ILO software visualizes all data and creates a virtual image of the warehouse. By entering the SSCC number, employees can immediately see where a package is located in the system. The AI-based software also measures the goods and even determines their height, as Lange reports. This is possible because the system uses the label on which the code is printed from a standardized height in relation to the package as a reference value.

With the help of the technology, the employees in the pilot warehouse in Öhringen are done 45 minutes early in the morning, reported Dachser manager Hohm on the occasion of receiving the German Logistics Award. Further process times would be reduced by 15 to 35 percent. In addition, the automatic recording saves 1 million scans. The digital twin is also set to increase productivity at the Erlensee food warehouse. Dachser handles packaged, palletized and refrigerated as well as non-refrigerated foodstuffs at the site. The recipients are central warehouses for retailers and supermarkets in the region.

Benefits For Retailers

The digital twin is gaining in importance as a future technology. In retail as well, as the example of dm shows. After closing time, the drugstore retailer uses robots to scan the shelves in more and more stores on a daily basis and thus obtain a virtual copy of a store. Similar to Dachser, dm hopes that greater transparency will lead to efficiency gains and improved in-store logistics with shorter routes.

In addition to the rollout in its own warehouses, Dachser is also developing a slimmed-down version of the solution for use by its shippers.

The idea behind the "Smart Kit" solution is for the shipper to label the goods with the code and scan all relevant data into the system to ensure maximum transparency right from the start.