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Dachser continues to innovate with the use of AI in groupage logistics with Digital Twin

  • Infromation screen for Dachser technology Digital Twin.

Dachser is conducting successful trial operations at two of its branches: Artificial Intelligence-based algorithms fully automatically identify, locate and measure all packages in the warehouse. This first step eliminates the need to manually scan and label packages and speeds up turnaround times. In the future, AI is expected to support and optimize charging as well.

In collaboration with Fraunhofer IML, Dachser has developed and implemented an innovative concept for groupage logistics. In the so-called "@ILO Terminal", a complete digital image of all the packages, assets and processes of a transit terminal, a "digital twin", is created fully automatically and in real time. The digital twin streamlines inbound and outbound processes and provides continuously updated information on the location of each package, benefiting not only logistics operators and drivers, but also planning and customer service employees.

This technological innovation is already proving its worth under real operating conditions in the transit terminals of the Dachser branches in Unterschleißheim near Munich and Öhringen near Heilbronn. The acronym @ILO stands for Advanced Indoor Localization and Operations and is a research project of the DACHSER Enterprise Lab, which the logistics operator is carrying out together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML. The core of the project is the jointly developed @ILO software, in which special algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence interpret the data that optical scanning units capture every second, using it to automatically and immediately identify and locate all packages. In the future, they will also measure packages. With this process, a complete and always up-to-date image of the warehouse and its processes is created: a digital twin. In the coming years, it is expected to provide real-time data on every palletized shipment in Dachser's European transport network.

"The constant digitization of our core processes will enable us to further improve our service," explains Dachser CEO Burkhard Eling. “We're not just focusing on the latest technologies to make that happen, we also want to bring our employees into the digital world, just like in the @ILO Terminal. This innovation brings clear benefits to daily work in the warehouse and therefore has the potential to be a milestone on the path to more efficient and sustainable logistics operations.”

“The @ILO Terminal takes us to a new level of supply chain visibility,” says Stefan Hohm, CDO and member of the Dachser Executive Board. “We have been working on the digital twin with Fraunhofer IML for more than four years. With a lot of knowledge, ideas and above all passion, the teams, made up of both researchers and experts working in the field, have made the Internet of Things and the vision of Logistics 4.0 a reality also in groupage logistics”.
Man with vehicle transporting packages with the help of Dachser technology.

Man with vehicle transporting packages with the help of Dachser technology.

Fully automatic identification and precise tracking

In the @ILO Terminal, packets are fully automatically identified on entry, stay, and exit, and logged into the transport management system. Manual barcode scanning and additional labeling of packages is no longer necessary. Two-dimensional Datamatrix codes at the top of each package serve as identifiers and, along with several hundred optical scanning units on the roof of the facility that capture the entire floor, provide the technological foundation for this system.

This innovation also enables real-time location of all pallets to within one meter in warehouses, which can often be the size of a football field. Shipment locations and truck positions can be viewed in real time and displayed on websites, apps or mobile screens, along with instructions for internal transport, significantly improving transparency in the warehouse and speeding up delivery processes. search and load.

One of the novelties is the so-called automatic "link" between the industrial trucks (FFZ) and the packages. The @ILO system automatically detects when a forklift picks up a pallet and transmits, in real time, information about each package to employees' screens. This is another feature that reduces handling times and can reshape processes in the transit terminal.

Constant measurement of packages

In addition, another technological milestone of the @ILO Terminal is in the pipeline: the constant and fully automated measurement of all packages. The system is already capable of determining package dimensions with high accuracy in pilot operations. When the system is fully ready for practical use, the data obtained on each package can be fed into intelligent algorithms to, for example, help drivers and terminal employees with loading and route planning, and to further increase the utilization of the capacity of swap bodies, trailers and local transport vehicles. The result would be a reduction in transport kilometers and, therefore, also a reduction in emissions.

“Initial tests have already clearly demonstrated the practical benefits of the @ILO Terminal,” says Alexander Tonn, COO Road Logistics at Dachser. “The system saves our employees valuable time and allows them to organize the processes in the terminal even more efficiently. It also makes charging and exiting significantly smoother for drivers. All of this has the potential to drive innovation in groupage logistics."

About @ILO

@ILO is part of the “DACHSER Future Terminal” research and development program, under which the logistics company intends to implement pioneering technologies and processes in its more than 300 transit terminals and warehouses in the European logistics network in the coming years. years. The idea is for Dachser to develop its own solutions to meet the challenges and to seize the opportunities presented by digitalization and sustainability.