The first development projects in the »Silicon Economy Logistics Ecosystem« innovation project have got off to a good start. »In these projects, solutions and components for the Silicon Economy infrastructure are developed», Andreas Nettsträter of Fraunhofer IML, responsible for the topics of network and knowledge transfer in the Silicon Economy, explains the importance of the development projects. The researchers work on specific logistics use cases according to the principle of »no development without application«. The software development is agile and approaches the problem description from a logistical point of view – something quite novel for publicly funded research projects.

The projects that have now been launched include those that develop specific services. These are, for example, an ETA service based on artificial intelligence, a service for digital load carrier exchange, a service for managing dynamic breaks or an identification service based on natural characteristics. »On the one hand, the development projects solve a specific problem and result in tangible demonstrators or prototypes«, explains Andreas Nettsträter. »On the other hand, we carry out research into fundamental questions about the technical infrastructure of the Silicon Economy using these examples«.

Overview of the first projects

  • Load carrier exchange processes still take place in a largely analog world today, whether with euro pallets, small load carriers or skeleton containers; in the digital world, isolated solutions predominate. That is why the »Digital Load Carrier Exchange« development project focusses on designing a uniform and as simple an exchange process as possible with regard to hardware and software.
  • The identification processes for load carriers are very time and personnel-intensive, as they are mainly based on barcodes. In this context, the »Identification Service based on Natural Features« development project is developing a fully automated recognition and identification system for shipping units without barcodes.
  • The stated goal of any logistics service provider is to provide its customers with reliable arrival times. In the »Building an AI-based ETA service« development project the scientists now want to set up a learning system arranged in the form of an open framework.
  • Work organization and resource control in the warehouse can become more flexible through dynamic breaks organization. In the »Dynamic Break« development project the scientists are developing an exemplary service that can be integrated in the IT infrastructure and the logistics processes of both a company and the transport itself.
  • Because of the low value of each individual article within C-parts supply, logistics companies are under particular pressure to design efficient processes. At the same time, the potential for intelligent services to reduce the planning and organization effort is great. In the »Supply Chain Execution« development project, various services for the exchange of information in large supply chains and logistics networks are now being developed which will become part of the Silicon Economy as open source solutions.
  • It is elaborate and expensive to develop IoT devices that are individually adapted to the processes and conditions of a logistics company and that capture, store, process and transmit data. Qualitative advantages and indirect savings cannot be determined and visualized without a proof-of-concept in real operation. In the »ModularOpen Source IoT Devices« development project a modular system is being developed that makes a simple configuration of IoT devices possible.

Companies can use the results

All general-purpose results from the development projects are published on an open source platform – from reference implementations for typical logistics applications and software components to AI algorithms for recurring problems.