Research and Development in Material Handling Engineering and Systems

Wireless Identification, Positioning and Communication

© Fraunhofer IFF, Dirk Mahler

A Reliable Wireless for Auto-ID Systems

The coexistence of wireless technologies in production and logistics areas is becoming more and more complex. Smartly using the wireless principle of electromagnetic reverberation provides a remedy and defines the perfect read zone for RFID tags as examples from the automotive and fashion industry demonstrate. Our patented technology gives our partners a competitive edge. Our RFID Tunnel Gates, used in logistics to read tagged goods in bulk, is a typical application of our patented system.

© Fraunhofer IFF, Dirk Mahler

The RFID Glove for Greater Mobility

Mobile devices for distributed scanning and communication are an integral part of infrastructures based on RFID. The RFID Wristband, a mobile RFID reader worn directly at the wrist, was developed for this. The RFID Wristband makes it easily to integrate mobile RFID read operations manual handling operations, from automatically confirming picking operation to monitoring the storage of items. Read data are transmitted to the control center wirelessly.

Image-based Identification, Positioning and Inspection

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A Virtual Bird’s-Eye View of Internal Logistics

A real-time visualization of an exact bird’s-eye-view of any premises with internal logistics from stationary camera images makes it possible to analyze ongoing processes as never before. A mosaic of images of people flows in winding airport terminals, the status of surrounding parking lots or the situation in the freight staging area immediately provide dispatchers an overview, which is rounded out by virtual reality so that complex spatial correlations can be visualized intuitively.

This complete overview can be upgraded with application-driven solutions such as marker-based positioning of equipment in industry or image-based situation analysis by means of crowd analysis for civil defense applications.

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Focusing on Fiducials from Above

Image-based localization of forklifts in internal logistics is crucial for their control systems and for the documentation of their movements (e.g. during storage and retrieval processes). Unlike other commercial systems, the Fraunhofer IFF’s MarLO® system marks mobile objects such as forklifts in order to localize them in a virtual bird’s-eye view of entire premises. In addition to precisely localizing forklifts, the system visualizes the overall logistical situation on the premises.

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Range Image Scans for More Transparent Shipments

New sensor technology is making range image scans affordable for wide use in logistics. This automatically generates many possibilities for more transparency in logistics, from merely monitoring the contours of pallets or documenting their loading to monitoring vehicle cargo space. Automatic scans of free cargo capacity will make it possible, for instance, to develop potentials for combining shipments better in the future.

As a technology partner, the Fraunhofer IFF transfers new high-tech sensor systems originally from the consumer goods industry to technical applications in manufacturing and logistics. The low price of sensors common in consumer goods and the high measurement quality make the development of entirely new applications possible, even in industry.

Smart Infrastructures and Objects in Logistics

© Fraunhofer IFF, Dirk Mahler

Smart Swap Bodies for Electric Vehicles in City-Logistics

We have been collaborating on the development of a new distribution system for courier express shipping service for several years. 3.5 t delivery vans and low-volume swap bodies will transform city logistics to meet residents growing needs. In addition to carrying freight, the swap bodies are also used as energy storage systems for electric vehicles. This patent pending approach extends vehicle ranges by providing vehicles new power on-the-fly simply by changing their swap bodies.

What is more, we are continually refining our system of smart containers, which combines our various developments in one product. By combining electromagnetic reverberation and range image scans we can track the status of freight in closed containers moving through various actors in the supply chain continually.

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Smart Infrastructures that Automatically Record Process Data

The Fraunhofer IFF employs imaging and wireless systems to help you automatically receive current information on the status of your equipment, processes and infrastructures all the time. We use RFID to obtain life cycle data, as in our RFID application that tracks permanent molds, or images to compile a virtual bird’s-eye view of large areas, a system not only used in industry but also for situation analysis in security-critical public infrastructures. Research projects on civil defense and logistics security applications, which draw on different applications, are presented below.

© Fraunhofer IFF, Dirk Mahler

Projects on Smart Freight and People Flow Control Systems

Novel applications for smart systems that plan and control freight and people flows with the aid of wireless and imaging technologies are being researched and developed in the projects listed below. The Fraunhofer IFF is doing work that ranges from technological applications through processing data and information obtained.