BLG develops smart containers for the automobile industry

BLG LOGISTICS, jointly with Bosch, the Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics (BIBA), GS1 Germany and queo, won out in a technology competition of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy with a digital lighthouse project for the automobile industry. The project SaSCh – an acronym for “Digital services for shaping agile supply chains” – has been part of the “PAICE” support program, designed to provide major impetus for digitization of industry, since October 11. The focus of the project is on development of a cyber-physical system that digitally records the quality data of car parts in the supply chain. The official starting signal for the project was given in November.

On average, a car is composed of around 10,000 individual parts. A high percentage of these components are procured externally. The production of a vehicle is thus based on a complex supply chain, in which a large number of suppliers and logistics providers are involved. “This high degree of complexity places enormous demands on quality management,” states Jakub Piotrowski, Director Business Development CONTRACT at BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG. The company has many years of experience in car parts logistics and offers its customers in the automobile industry individual solutions: from procurement of packaging and precisely sequenced production supply all the way to handling plant logistics, including module assembly.

Jakub Piotrowski underlines: “High product quality does not depend on one company alone, but on an optimal interplay of all partners along the supply chain.” The basis for that, he says, is firstly a cross-company exchange of information. Secondly the collected data have to be prepared comprehensibly for the users. These two points are where SaSCh comes into play. The aim is to better ensure the quality and condition of the parts moved along the supply chain through consistent use of sensors. Stationary and mobile sensor solutions are to help in recording the data relevant for quality. “Entirely in line with the Internet of Things, we develop smart containers that make the transport of goods even more transparent,” states Jakub Piotrowski. The objective is to create a lean and robust supply chain without special shipments, reworking, production downtime or recall campaigns.

However, other industries can also profit from the results of the project. Jakub Piotrowski: “In their entirety our planned measures make it possible to provide high-quality products completely, economically and on schedule at the site of use.”

Use case for the automobile industry

It is the first time that a project creates and validates the technical and methodological requirements for a cross-company exchange of sensor and quality data and utilizes these data in digital services in combination with the existing options for exchanging tracking and tracing data. SaSCh, which is planned for a period of 36 months, initially encompasses five subprojects in which the respective competencies of the partners are also reflected in the project consortium. BLG LOGISTICS predominantly examines and treats logistics questions: What do digital services and business models have to be like to ensure that end-to-end monitoring of quantities and qualities is possible within logistics? BLG Industrial Logistics will also test the approach in the framework of a simplified use case from the automobile industry jointly with Bosch. GS1 Germany ensures standardization of the processes. BIBA will handle scientific exploitation and provide support through its innovations on 3D condition monitoring and autonomous planning and control. To make the digital services useful for people in an easy and intuitive manner, queo will bring its experience in designing intuitive user interfaces to bear. Especially in complex situations, different terminal devices will visually support easy decision-making. Bosch will also bring its small and medium-sized suppliers into play during the project period.

Lighthouse research project

This can be referred as a lighthouse project, not least of all due to the use case from the automobile industry and the well-known companies involved. The partners in the consortium not only have key competencies and market shares in the fields of production, logistics and IT, but also possess strong cooperation networks and have already successfully worked together in other projects.

Frank Dreeke, CEO of BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG, is delighted that SaSCh was one of 13 research projects to receive the contract award from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: “This project fits in excellently with our digitization strategy. We have been following the issues of digitization and Industry 4.0 at the highest level for some time now. After all, digitization is faster than anything we’ve experienced up to now and it’s changing logistics requirements and processes massively. That’s why, among other things, we have identified seven focal points with the main focus on IT integration / networking and autonomy. As within the framework of SaSCh, we want to boost the use of modern technologies in pilot projects jointly with partners from industry and science.”

This research and development project is financed through funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) within the technology program “PAICE-digital technologies for industry” and supported by the project management agency “Information Technologies / Electromobility” at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne.

A smart container for the automobile industry.
Jakub Piotrowski and BLG employee Ina Welmert testing a prototype of the smart container with sensor solution at the BLG logistics center in Bremen.

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