Indoor localization offers a solution for complex logistics networks

Feb 20, 2019

Waldkirch, Germany, February 2019 – SICK takes another step toward Industry 4.0 by offering a new, comprehensive indoor localization portfolio. Thanks to coordinated sensors and analysis tools, large amounts of data can now be evaluated purposefully and fields of action can be displayed in factory processes or logistics. This makes it possible to manage complex logistics networks, create transparency and ensure speedy deliveries. This portfolio makes SICK the first manufacturer to offer a comprehensive range of solutions along the entire value creation change from a single source. 


Production and logistics processes are becoming more complex all the time. The batch sizes being produced are getting smaller and smaller. However, the standard for efficiency is not going anywhere. Processes still have to be efficient enough for mass production. This requires flexibility and speed. That is why rigid continuous conveyors are being added to the existing logistics solutions to support moving industrial trucks and other mobile resources, following the taxi principle. Going forward, the supply chain will more prominently feature a combination of automated and manual processes. This complicated logistics network requires efficient management. Transparency beyond the limits of individual systems is required here more than ever: for conveying systems, for forklifts, for moving pallets in the warehouse or at the nearest handling depot—along the entire value creation chain. 


Moving more goods takes more transparency


SICK has many years of experience and is recognized as a market leader in the area of object tracking on conveying systems. Read rates for bar codes or RFID at stationary read locations determine the performance of the system and are the core of many logistics systems. Whether the application involves camera, laser or RFID technology, SICK offers the perfect high-performance solutions. The goal is always to ensure the efficient use of all necessary transport and loading equipment and management of the entire supply chain, known as “asset management.” However, once goods leave the conveying system, the location of each object can often be unclear.  


“The growing number of goods movements and dynamics are already making logistics processes quite complicated. A good amount of expert knowledge on the shop floor makes it possible to maintain an overview here and maintain control over these processes,” says Bernd von Rosenberger, Vice President of Global Industry Center Logistics Automation at SICK AG. “Network knowledge about various properties of sources and sinks as well as other dependencies is a necessity,” Rosenberger continues.


Reliable, repeatable and proactive processes in an increasingly complex network will soon only be able to be controlled through an understanding of this network and by creating real transparency. Increasing digitalization in the production and logistics fields plays a key role in this process.


Localization solution from a single source


Logistics assets can be tracked continuously using localization solutions—known as indoor GPS—and their space-time coordinates can be continuously recorded and stored. Having this data means complete transparency about all the important movements on the shop floor. Today's analytics tools can already use this data to make connections between different events, presenting an unfiltered look into actual factory or logistics processes.


All the established technologies—ultra wide-band tags, LIDAR Contour Mapping, line guidance sensors, infrastructure sensors—record either their own position or the position of the desired objects. Depending on the application as well as the positioning accuracy and update rate required, the right technology is selected or various technologies are combined with each other. SICK is the first manufacturer to offer all technologies for individual customer applications. SICK can cover the entire solution scope from sensors to the cloud-hosted smart data service. The customer gets everything it needs for smooth operation—from the consultation to the service level agreement—from a single source.


Industry 4.0 is happening now


Localization technology is one of the key factors in achieving the type of networked production and logistics needed for Industry 4.0. It can be used to boost optimization potential in several areas by allowing for agile planning of production and logistics processes. Localization data gives companies a high level of transparency and understanding of all production-related assets, load carriers and loading equipment. The payoff: Travel paths can be optimized and adapted dynamically. Setup times can be prepared or scheduled flexibly. The material flow can be planned and controlled based on consumption. All of this boosts delivery quality and on-time delivery. And everything is fully automated. “By offering this solution, we’re doing more than just answering the question of how to make I 4.0 a reality. We’re achieving high-efficiency logistics and production that live up to the standards of both the customers and the ever-changing market,” concludes Rosenberger.


The localization product range will be introduced to the public at LogiMAT 2019 in Stuttgart and will then be available.  


SICK is one of the world's leading producers of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications. The company, which was founded in 1946 by Dr. Erwin Sick and has its headquarters in Waldkirch im Breisgau near Freiburg in Germany, is among the technology market leaders. With more than 50 subsidiaries and equity investments as well as many agencies, SICK has a agency all over the world. In the 2017 fiscal year, SICK had more than 8,809 employees worldwide and a group revenue of just under EUR 1.5 billion.