Digital Factory: Finding the Optimal Tracking System for Logistics
(3 min read)
Who wants to automate and further optimize their material flow will quickly come to the topic of tracking and real-time location system (RTLS), i.e. the real-time traceability of objects. Solutions in this area let increase productivity in manufacturing and logistics by a higher material turnover. Furthermore, they save costs because fewer load carriers are needed. An effective tracking system includes the seamless localization and networking of moving objects in the shop floor and the intelligent processing of position and status data — as well as the integration into the ERP system. But how can companies plan and set up a tracking system?
Let’s start with the load carriers. Containers, pallets and boxes are of high importance for transport and storage in production and logistics. So far, the management of load carriers has not been automated much. Problems, such as container shrinkage and missing or excess stocks causing search times, downtimes and additional costs for additional load carriers. Inefficient processes are the result of long circulation times, poor utilization and a lack of knowledge about the condition of load carriers. The solution can be a tracking system or a real-time location system. It enables seamless tracking of load carriers in real time and optimized control of logistical processes.
Tracking System for Specific Requirements
The business process decides on the appropriate location system. This requires a precise analysis of the business processes and other essential requirements such as accuracy and range. For example, it is necessary to ask in which area the objects are to be located and how precisely:
- If it is necessary to determine the positions of a container worldwide, a GPS-supported system makes sense.
- If, on the other hand, a pallet is to be located on a company site or in a hall, the solution must provide more precise location information and it must work safely indoors.
- Does the logistics manager want to track a load carrier along certain defined stations in the supply chain or just roughly know in which warehouse certain goods or components are located? This may require the combination of different technologies such as Bluetooth and GPS in one tracking device.
Like with any investment, a preliminary analysis is also necessary here. Therefore, companies should evaluate the applicable location and tracking devices. And, they should have the return on investment (ROI) concretely demonstrated. Because in addition to the technological options, the commercial aspects are also important. For this purpose, the acquisition and maintenance costs can be put into relation to the achieved time savings and the quality gain.
Real-Time Location System and ROI
Our experts record the relevant business processes, requirements and parameters in our workshops. This is followed by a selection of suitable technologies for the specific process requirements and the determination of the return on investment. Only when the right tracking system has been found, the integration of the real-time location & tracking devices via our real-time software (RIoT) into an SAP system for process automation can be started.
Here, among others, we are working with Scheidt & Bachmann GmbH on real-time tracking solutions that track the current location of goods, register movements and automatically book them in the SAP system. Scheidt & Bachmann is developing the real-time location & tracking devices as well as the platform for localizing and managing the tracking devices, while we are taking over the Logistics Bridge solution. This solution combines technologies and platforms with SAP Leonardo and SAP ERP.
Stock movements tracked with tags and gateways provide IoT data and events. Then these events trigger business processes in the ERP system as automated inventory postings in Inventory Management, Warehouse Management or Extended Warehouse Management — for an increased productivity in manufacturing and logistics.