Why BASF Is Investing in a Smart Pallet Start-Up

  • Strategic partnership with Ahrma enables new, data-driven business opportunities in this startup for the pooling of smart pallets    
  • BASF to invest €5 million in Ahrma’s technology as part of digital transformation
  • BASF customers and suppliers to profit from increased supply chain transparency through real-time data generated from smart pallet transponders
Ahrma smart pallet pooling, BASF,digital transformation

Recognizing the potential of using digital technologies and data to strengthen its long-term competitiveness, BASF embarked on a digital transformation journey in 2015. The company now enters a strategic partnership with Dutch start-up company Ahrma Holding B.V. to jointly approach the growing market for smart logistic solutions. Ahrma offers a complete, rentable supply chain solution consisting of a pallet coated with BASF’s polyurethane spray system Elastocoat® C PU and equipped with an active wireless transponder.

Ludwigshafen, Germany, December 6, 2017 – With the digital economy projected to account for 25% of the global economy by 2025 with an estimated $100 trillion of value generated over the next decade, it is clearly the elephant in the room for supply chain strategists. Recognizing the potential to strengthen its long-term competitiveness, BASF embarked on a digital transformation journey in 2015. In line with that direction, the company has joined into a strategic partnership with Dutch start-up company Ahrma Holding B.V. to jointly approach the growing market for smart logistic solutions. This is made possible through the pooling of an innovative smart pallet from Ahrma. With an investment of €5 million in Ahrma shares, BASF is taking an important step towards a more transparent, reliable and efficient supply chain ecosystem.

“There is great interest in the smart use of logistics data as companies in all industries look for transparent, reliable information in real-time to optimize their supply chain,” said Raimar Jahn, President of BASF’s Performance Materials division.

Ahrma offers a complete, rentable supply chain solution consisting of a pallet coated with BASF’s polyurethane (PU) spray system Elastocoat® C and equipped with an active wireless transponder. Ahrma also offers its transponder as a stand-alone technology for retrofitting existing assets or entirely new application areas. As reported last year our initial coverage of Ahrma, its pallet combines the best characteristics of both wooden and plastic pallets. Its process involves spraying the polyurethane coating Elastocoat® C of BASF on a specially developed wood composite inner structure, produced by Greenpanel. The result, says, Ahrma, is a pallet with superior strength. The company claims that it is more durable and lighter than other types of pallets. The pallet is produced in components and assembled with a special adhesive.

The unique compressed wood inner structure is made of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and PEFC certified MDF or medium density fiberboard, which is CARB2 compliant. This material is used for both the internal vertical structure as well as the pallet faces.

The embedded transponder in each pallet offers both a long-range protocol for factory and warehouse-wide coverage as well as a short-range protocol for smartphone scanning. Transponders communicate with intelligent, low-cost receivers that are mounted at strategic places at customer sites.

First Pilots Successful

First pilot applications of Ahrma’s smart pallet at BASF customers have proven the advantages of the system. The technology provided users complete insights on the position and movement of shipped goods, temperature fluctuations, load state and any possible impact or dropping. Such transparency was then used to improve processes, reduce waste and save costs.

But BASF and Ahrma don’t want to stop here. Together, they want to further develop Ahrma’s offering by bringing in complementary strengths of both partners spanning from internal use cases to supporting the enrichment of the technology. “We believe that there is great potential far beyond the chemical industry for an offering like this,” said Jahn.

“With customers in almost every market and industry, and a strategic path towards digitalization, BASF is an ideal partner for us to further develop our smart platform concept and surrounding Internet of Things infrastructure,” said Erik de Bokx, CEO and founder of Ahrma.

Ahrma is a smart logistics IT company with its headquarters and main production site in Deventer, the Netherlands. Ahrma has offices in four countries worldwide, serving clients’ logistics in the industrial food, beverage, pharmaceutical and retail industries. The company’s main objective is to create complete visibility in supply chains with assets capturing movements, temperature, and shocks, and to build trust in the use of blockchain technology. Ahrma recently acquired 100% of the shares of Makers BV, a Dutch producer of lightweight panels, and entered into a Joint Venture for Proteus smart retail displays. Further information at  www.ahrmapooling.com.

The approximately 114,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of its customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. The company’s portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas. BASF generated sales of about €58 billion in 2016. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (BAS). Further information at  www.basf.com.