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Seamless transparency in materials flow and handling

Seamless transparency in materials flow and handling

When it comes to distribution logistics and returns management, the flow of materials and information is essential. But it doesn’t stop there: Material labelling and tracking processes are also playing an increasingly significant role in the production logistics industry. Whether you’re a logistics expert, a manufacturer, or even an end customer, the ability to know where particular goods or components are located at any given time increases the transparency of your processes, which is not without its advantages.

Over the past few decades, commercial and production logistics enterprises – such as those within the automotive industry – have become real trailblazers when it comes to developing and implementing new labelling and identification methods. These enterprises have shown us time and time again that having a range of identification technologies is essential when it comes to meeting the various requirements of information and application technologies. From 1D bar codes and 2D codes right through to RFID, each of these technologies offers its own specific benefits for the extensive range of different applications.

Virtual material flow

Today’s industries also require a high level of transparency when it comes to the material flow and materials, and this essentially comes down to the process of virtualising this physical activity. For sensor technology, this involves the ability to record data and pass it on reliably, for which the prerequisites are interoperability and communication at sensor and control level. Intelligent sensors provide systems and machines with the capacity to carry out detection and communication processes, while intelligent software ensures that the data acquired in this way can be used effectively. With its seamless flow of data and information from the sensor to the control and back again, this type of automation network is the cornerstone of the Industrial Internet.

The right identification technology – well networked

Some companies may find that they need to rely on multiple identification technologies for their various processes to suit a wide range of operating conditions and environments. Depending on the particular application, factors such as data volume, transport speeds, range, respective reading distance, the field of vision, and environmental conditions can all have a role to play. In some cases, it may be necessary to change the technology at a later stage to accommodate changes in company processes or requirements. This is when it becomes ideal for all identification systems to function in the same way, use the same connection technology, and operate on a single, uniform platform. A platform such as the IDpro from SICK. All three automatic identification technologies – scanners, cameras, and RFID – are characterised by their uniform connection technology, the same user interface, and a standardised range of accessories.

Continuous flow of information thanks to a uniform platform

Identical interfaces and a common “language” across identification devices is the key to effective data exchange, while a uniform platform means that even changing from one identification solution to another is child’s play. The standardised interface concept makes it possible to convert data – for example, from bar code to RFID – without a hitch. Essentially, what a consistent device platform provides is flexibility. Any investments in concrete identification solutions can wait until you are certain of your requirements. If the necessary data flow is still guaranteed at this stage, then integration and exchange can be carried out with ease at the sensor level.

More than just object identification: Hybrid systems from SICK

If you’re looking for greater process efficiency and increased transparency, it may also be necessary to combine technologies. SICK’s hybrid systems are made up of tried-and-tested individual components, and their scalable design means they can be adapted to suit precise requirements. Lots of small packages or a handful of big ones? Small but heavy units or large light ones? The combination of weight and volume defines the freight costs of packages. The ability to calculate these freight costs accurately and on an individual basis puts you a step ahead in the logistics industry – particular given today’s high energy prices. The dimensioning-weighing-scanning system (DWS) from SICK determines the weight and volume of packages and identifies them using 1D or 2D codes. All of this data has to be recorded and passed on reliably before an automatic invoice can be generated based on a volume/weight pricing scale. This process, therefore, provides precise calculations and the ability to allocate any necessary freight costs.

More information: www.sick.com/track-and-trace-systeme


Intelligent sensors record and communicate data, but there’s no real added value involved until this data can be used to make decisions on ways to improve processes. “Big data” has become a real issue for companies, particularly in logistics environments where plants are tasked with processing millions of packages each day. On the one hand this data offers great opportunities; on the other hand, however, the process of preparing it in a way that allows companies to make the right decisions presents a significant challenge. This is why we created the “Package Analytics” software, which calls upon our extensive practical experience with automatic identification resources to provide a solution for these data recording and analysis requirements. This software allows you to retrieve and analyse information on system performance as well as the statuses of all recorded data with ease – from an individual package on the conveyor to an overview of the millions transported each day. This provides operators with direct access to the key variables for the materials flow, allowing them to understand and control these variables in a more appropriate way. The dynamic database solution simplifies the processes of monitoring, analysing, and creating reports, while images or videos of the packages can be pre-filtered and analysed with ease in line with predefined selection criteria.

High scalability and remote access

The Package Analytics software can record and visualise the bar code quality and read rate of an individual system. Not only this, but the high-performance client/server platform can be used across several systems on a single site or even networked over multiple locations. The service and support team offers exceptional system throughput without the hassle of a call-out – the SICK Meeting Point Router (MPR) provides safe and reliable remote access worldwide to the systems and plants listed in the Package Analytics software.

Further applications: www.mysick.com/applications