15 June 2018

BPW's Innovation Lab is developing a tracking solution for supply chain management with Sigfox

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BPW's Innovation Lab is developing a tracking solution for supply chain management with Sigfox

BPW Group’s think tank, Innovation Lab, has launched a state-of-the-art tracking solution, based on Sigfox’s global IoT network, to significantly increase transparency in the supply chain

 

"Sigfox was the right radio data transmission technology because it has demonstrated its commitment in France and offers an attractive price point for freight tracking," explains Marcus Sassenrath the Digital Strategist of the BPW Group and founding member of the BPW Innovation Lab. To develop the system, the BPW Innovation Lab combined the know-how of the ERP specialist SAP with logistics, mechatronics and telematics specialists from across the BPW Group.

 

The results are impressive: "Sigfox is already achieving module prices that we don‘t expect to see in Narrow Band IoT for several years," says Sassenrath. The solution is also more technically advanced than comparable systems (see: The Technology below). "Clearly, a new technology can also pose risks, but progress so far has been good, and we've learned a lot in the past few months that has quickly been incorporated into the trackers," reports Sassenrath. 

 

The Innovation Lab is all about testing and learning. "The experience we’ve gained in the proof-of-concept projects is excellent because there is transparency from the sender, over the carrier, to the recipient. This will make our vision of the Internet of Transport a reality," explains Alexander Lutze founding member of the BPW Innovation Lab.

 

 

Sigfox connectivity service used to run internal and external field tests

 

The new tracking solution is being tested by BPW in-plant logistics. There, the company follows the so-called axle racks and is always up to date on where components are located. “We are internally optimizing the management of empty axle racks and will soon be able to provide integrated delivery tracking solutions to create new customer value for the BPW group,” explains Lutze.

 

External testing is also in full swing. Although the names of the field test partners have not yet been revealed, Lutze hints: "Our first customer is a global company’s steel service centre and the project is tracking the deliveries of one of its big customers. The customer is located in a densely populated urban area and is therefore unable to build a large warehouse close to its production facilities. The steel service centre supplies its customers three times a day and commits to placing orders within just one day.”

 

Due to the volume of deliveries, the tools are sometimes delivered directly to the machines. "With our tracking solution, the dispatcher, the buyer and, above all, the customer’s production planner, can forecast whether the promised delivery dates can be kept, and further processing of the tools can be carried out as planned," explains Lutze, of the benefits of this newly gained transparency. 

 

But that's not all. Since delays can be flagged at an early stage, the production manager can act ahead of time. For example, he can reschedule the machine allocation without things coming to a standstill due to the delayed delivery.

 

Furthermore the BPW Innovation Lab has started several Proof-of-Concept Project with overall eight customers, including an M-DAX company and some well-known family owned companies. Pascal Steinhoff, also part of the BPW Innovation Lab, explains: “A commonality all our customers share, is the frustration of not knowing where their goods and assets are. We provide transparency around deliveries and current stocks within the logistics chains, both internally and externally. Our aim is to generate new services and add value to our customers businesses.”

 

 

2018: Tracking solution from BPW goes into production

 

The way forward is clear: the first proofs of concept should be completed successfully in the first half of 2018, so that the solutions can be mass-produced for the respective customers. Beginning in the third quarter of the year, the series product may also be available to other customers, which is perfectly fitting for the IAA Commercial Vehicles, where BPW will present its first Success Stories.

 

The technology:

 

  • Sigfox is a French company that is building its own global wireless network dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • The aim of the technology is to connect objects wirelessly to the Internet over a long range, at very low cost and very low energy consumption, with years of battery life
  • The data from objects is transmited using Ultra Narrow Band radio technology (UNB)
  • Sigfox operates in the ISM band (868 megahertz in Europe, 902 megahertz in the US, for example)
  • In open terrain, distances of 30 to 50 kilometers can be bridged, in cities between three and ten kilometers
  • The Sigfox network uses low data rates with a maximum of twelve bytes data payload per message in uplink, and no more than 140 messages per device / day to save energy
  • The Sigfox network also offers downlink capabilities, up to 4 messages per day for 8 bytes data payload
  • In addition to geo-coordinates, information about vibration or temperature can also be transmitted, depending on the sensors onboarded in the devices
  • According to Sigfox, the trackers can transmit with the power of two AA batteries for several years
  • The expansion of the Sigfox radio network is already well advanced internationally (45 countries to date

 

The company:

 

  • BPW Bergische Achsen is headquartered in Wiehl
  • There are more than 1,600 employees, including around 120 trainees
  • Supplier of axle systems and brake systems, as well as suspension and storage for trailers
  • The BPW Group comprises more than 70 companies with around 7,000 employees
  • These include the telematics specialist Idem Telematics
  • The group sees itself as internal mobility partner for the transport industry