“Data Gold” of Logistics: Tracker Makes Pallets Intelligent

  • Telekom, Fraunhofer IML and EPAL launch 500 smart EPAL pallets on the market
  • IoT enables pallets will help find lost and stolen shipments
  • Tracking pallets live at the German Logistics Congress
  • 10-year 10 Euro data flat rate

Der eingebaute Low Cost Tracker liefert Daten über die Position der Palette oder des Ladungsträgers, erkennt Bewegungen und misst den Temperaturverlauf.

Translated from the original by Google Translate

The Internet of Things is becoming mass-marketable for logistics. Deutsche Telekom, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML and the European Pallet Association (EPAL) have launched the first 500 intelligent EPAL pallets in practical use, according to a German language press release.

They note that loss and delay are two of the biggest challenges in logistics. Freight theft costs companies billions of euros each year. Due to missing or incorrect information, 30 percent of all deliveries worldwide do not reach their destination on time. Intelligently networked pallets provide the basis for reducing loss and delay issues. Telekom, Fraunhofer IML and EPAL recently presented a new generation of standardized pallets at the German Logistics Congress.

“Intelligent pallets are the start of a new era for EPAL, and the innovation potential of new data availability is crucial to providing our customers with reliable added value and a sustainable business model,” said Ingo Mönke, CEO of GPAL, German National Committee of the European Pallet Association.

Quickly located and protected from thieves

The small, low-cost tracker was developed in the Telekom Open IoT Labs at Fraunhofer IML, where it was installed in 500 EPAL pallets. The low-cost tracker can determine location and retrieve movement, shock effects and temperature history. A waterproof sensor registers shock, position, tilt angle, accelerations and temperature of the pallet. The pallet reports automatically in case of deviations due to vibrations or temperature fluctuations. It automatically sends its current data to its own portal.

“We built the low-cost tracker specifically for EPAL as one of our first customers, with more than 500 million pallets in circulation in Europe alone, which has huge potential to digitize the supply chain,” said Ingo Hofacker, responsible for the IoT business at Deutsche Telekom.

Data, the new currency of logistics

Due to the robust and compact design, the trackers can be installed in virtually every load carrier. The data exchange takes place via the machine and sensor network of the Telecom, in professional circles called NarrowBand IoT (in short: NB-IoT). Due to its special properties, this narrow band technology is an ideal pioneer for the Internet of Things. It opens up a wireless future with secure, stable and robust connectivity that works virtually anywhere. Advantages of the new technology are low energy consumption, low costs and high penetration in buildings. The battery life is ten years. The data flat rate costs once ten euros for 10 years. Also, the use of licensed spectrum and 3GPP standardization ensures LTE-based security. This is an important step towards 5G. The global roaming capability of NB-IoT is also becoming increasingly important.

Experts estimate that well over a billion devices a year will go online in the coming years. Many of them will be used in the transport and logistics industry. The small devices in the pallets, containers and containers will transfer billions of status data in the future. In addition, they can localize themselves and communicate with each other.

“The low-cost tracker makes carriers smart and boosts the data gold of logistics, which will be the key competitive advantage in logistics – scaling up to billions is a global standard with secure certification and authentication, such as a SIM card indispensable as in the long term guaranteed, stable networks, competitive prices and flat rates. This can currently only NB IoT, “says Prof. Michael ten Hompel, managing director of the Fraunhofer IML.

At the German Logistics Congress of the Bundesvereinigung Logistik (BVL) from October 17 to 19, 2018 in Berlin, the partners demonstrated for the first time live the route of intelligent pallets in the Bellevue area at Booth B / 05.