Use case spotlight: smart pallets for smart warehouses

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Contribution by Joe Speed ADLINK Field Partner CTO

Joe Speed

I recently heard someone jokingly say, “vision is the hottest thing since the smart phone” when talking about machine learning. But the truth is, they may not be far off. In 2018, machine vision systems and components experienced record growth at 9.2% year over year, and according to markets and markets, the machine vision market will be worth $14.0 billion by 2022.

Here at ADLINK we’re seeing more and more clients solve everyday business challenges in a quick, low cost, high ROI way with Edge IoT for vision technology. Issues such as:

Ever thought pallets in a distribution center could talk? Well now they can thanks to ADLINK’s Edge IoT solution for vision-based IoT initiatives.  In this use case spotlight we take a look at how Edge IoT for machine vision can help distribution centers find “missing in action” inventory, intercept shipments heading to the wrong destination before they leave the warehouse and ship more, better, faster. 

ADLINK Smart Pallet, camera as a sensor with Edge AI
Smart Pallet Gamification

The Problem: Beyond the Barcode

Customers want instant gratification and it’s getting tougher to keep distribution processes satisfying demand. Most warehouses use handheld barcode scanners to verify that the right package is on the right pallet and to keep inventory up to date. Hand scanning however requires a worker to establish a line of sight with the code on the package, so they may have to bend, kneel or take time to turn the package to get a good scan. And if they don’t get a good scan, too often packages end up on the wrong pallet, shipped to the wrong destination, or simply become “missing in action” forcing quality and customer teams to replace product resulting in loss.

While palletizers provide automation they not only require a completely new way of working but also the purchase, installation, education, and maintenance of very expensive and complex machinery. So much so that even the largest retailers aren’t finding palletizers as cost-effective solutions for pallet automation. 

The Solution: Smart Pallets for Smart Warehouses

With Edge IoT for machine vision technology you can enhance what already exists in your distribution center, barcodes optional.

ADLINK’s Edge IoT for machine vision solution for instance includes a combination of smart cameras and deep learning edge IoT software allowing pallets to communicate real-time with other pallets in the warehouse and warehouse employees. On the back-end, the solution can also communicate real-time with the warehouse management system(s), ERP, PLCs, sensors and more. With built-in edge computing power Smart Cameras can collect data, compute and transmit information at the edge, without requiring the need to call-back to any cloud or database creating instant inventory reporting to the milliseconds. With deep learning (AI), boxes can be identified even if their barcodes were never scanned, eliminating the hassle of misplaced and “missing in action” boxes that cause inventory and customer service discrepancies. Employees no longer have to worry about the hassle of scanning barcodes and can focus on productivity. You can read more about how ADLINK’s solution works in this recent Packaging Digest interview.

Beyond Palletizing

But when it comes to edge computing for vision-based IoT initiatives we’re also seeing food and beverage manufacturers, oil and gas operators, robotic systems creators and more using ADLINK’s Edge IoT solution for vision to:

When it comes to industry 4.0, one thing is for sure- machine vision and AI have more than arrived. If handheld scanning is limiting your ability to meet demands in the 21st-century warehouse, it’s time for a 21st-century solution. 

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