The Düsseldorf Ubisense AG and VLS Engineering GmbH in Cologne have already worked together successfully in many projects. They have now signed a partnership agreement. As part of this partnership, Ubisense’s high-precision real-time tracking system is to systematically complement and expand the VLS video-based consignment tracking systems. The combination of both technologies makes it possible, in no time at all, to track, trace and document goods and shipping processes in distribution and warehouse logistics in every detail. This prevents shortfalls in quantity, guarantees delivery times, reduces the internal efforts and thus increases the quality and efficiency of logistical processes.
The list of customers of VLS GmbH reads like the Who’s Who of German logistics: DHL, Fiege, Rhenus, Raben, Kühne + Nagel and many other logisticians operating worldwide rely on the software-based video enquiry of the Cologne-based company. This is no accident because a precise documentation of goods and their movements is essential wherever thousands of consignments are being delivered, stored and forwarded. In view of the high time pressure and the enormous value of the goods being moved, it must always be clear where and in what condition a package is and what happened to it while it was stored in the warehouse. Barcode scans alone are not enough for this purpose and must be supplemented by informative image material, especially if there are deviations from the process, e.g. in the event of the loss of or damage to the consignment. As a consequence, in some cases up to 300 cameras in large logistics terminals keep track of every movement of consignments and, in the process, produce several terabytes of video data.
The quick localisation of consignments in such extensive image archives is being assisted by the real-time tracking system of Ubisense. It works like a high-precision indoor GPS and is based on ultra-wideband radio technology. Users merely need a simple infrastructure of small active transponders (so-called tags), sensors and the corresponding software. The tags are, suitable for industrial use, integrated into the barcode scanner and transmit locating signals. Sensors at central points in the warehouse hall receive the signals and compute the position of the tags several times per second. The software processes the location data and passes it on to the VLS system via a specially designed and certified interface. With this data, every scan process is being precisely documented with the consignment ID, the date and time as well as the position in the warehouse hall, in real-time, three-dimensional and with a precision of up to 15 centimetres. In addition, the areas of coverage of the individual surveillance cameras are being stored in the software as spatial zones. Based on this data, the system determines in next to no time which camera was focused on the consignment at the relevant time. The relevant video images are found within a few seconds, customer enquiries can be answered at short notice and the quality of the processes increases.
Udo Rieger, CEO of VLS Engineering, sees a lot of potential in the joint solution: “In logistics, both time pressure and documentation requirements increase in equal measure. With Ubisense we have the market and technology leader for real-time tracking on our side, this gives us a key competitive advantage.” Ubisense, too, expects a lot from this partnership: “The logistics market is certainly of interest to us”, says Ubisense executive board member Terry Phebey. “With the know-how and experience of VLS Engineering we will be able to successfully position ourselves and our system on the market both at national and international level.