Flowcate works with numerous industrial partners and leading research institutions in the field of logistics and production. A joint cooperation has been established with the Institute for Technical Logistics (ITL) from Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH).
Since the founding of the ITL in 2016, the goal has been to offer an interface between academic-basic research and industry through application-oriented research, with the focus on researching and developing innovative technologies, solutions, and trends in the context of logistics. In addition to conventional logistics topics, such as warehouse planning and process optimization, the ITL deals extensively with Industry 4.0 technologies, such as autonomous mobile robots, object detection, indoor localization, simulation of goods flows and virtual reality.
Due to the immense potential of localization for logistics processes, the ITL has been developing and investigating localization solutions and their application in various research projects. Researchers at the ITL have been actively involved in the further development of the omlox standard. The DeepHub® is being used at the ITL to avoid isolated solutions in the research context and to develop future-proof solutions. One of these solutions is detailed below.
In modern warehouses, monitoring the movement of people, goods, human-operated vehicles, and automated guided vehicles is a significant challenge. Fortunately, localization systems rectify these challenges. They create the necessary transparency to meet the increasing cost pressure and the requirements for delivery time, flexibility and safety.
Transparency is achieved by providing the right people with the right information to make informed decisions. Heatmaps, spaghetti-diagrams and various KPIs can be provided for collision, driving behaviour and consumption analysis.
Localization systems based on different technologies from different vendors are often already in place or can be deployed to empower various applications. In the case of AGVs, position information is already available. However, vendor- or technology-dependent data formats for position information impede the consistent data flow necessary for a holistic setup.
With the omlox ecosystem, the position information of goods, people and heterogeneous fleets of manual vehicles and AGVs from different manufacturers can be merged into a holistic setup. The Institute for Technical Logistics from Hamburg University of Technology has recognized the potential of leveraging omlox to increase transparency in warehouses. The software application Troplocer was developed to showcase and investigate the potential of analyzing position data with omlox.
Various robot systems equipped with different localization sensors are in use at the Institute of Technical Logistics. Sensor information from an optical motion capture system, an Intel RealSense tracking camera, and a LiDAR-based system is processed using the Robot Operating System (ROS) to navigate the robots. ROS is an open-source robotics middleware suite for robot software development that has been adopted by many key robotics companies.
An omlox Converter Node integrates the position information from ROS into the omlox ecosystem. Collision and fence events are generated by the omlox Hub to further enrich the available information. As the premier omlox Hub, Flowcate’s DeepHub acts as the centerpiece of this solution. The DeepHub is a lightweight, high-performance middleware that enables interoperability of all positioning technologies through a single API, allowing for the cross-integration of hardware and software components from any vendor.
The omlox data is then transmitted to the Troplocer-App. The app displays the data to enable real-time monitoring tasks. The prototype then processes the recorded data for motion analysis, trajectory analysis, and area analysis. In addition to heat maps and spaghetti diagrams, various KPIs are also provided. The KPIs range from downtimes to the number and position of heavy braking operations to the dwell time in a warehouse aisle.
– Jakob Schyga – Research Associate at the Institute for Technical Logistics
“Working with Flowcate has been a great experience! Their DeepHub enables us to integrate research results with existing soft- and hardware and thus build a holistic and future-proof solution for localization in logistics.”
omlox enables aggregated data flow in a standardized way. In symbiosis with ROS, existing position information from robotic systems is integrated into a holistic setup. Standardizing the data flow via the omlox Hub API not only reduces setup time, but also ensures an extensible and future-proof architecture.
In the presented case, data from the omlox Hub is further enriched by identifying events and then flows into the Troplocer-App, which provides a holistic overview of movements in the industrial environment. The gain in transparency ultimately helps users meet their goal of increasing safety, efficiency and flexibility in warehouses. The Troplocer-App was presented at the 17th specialist colloquium of the WGTL and published in the Logistics Journal from 2021 and in the spirit of open science, the code was made publicly available on GitLab.
We (Flowcate) are proud to work with world renowned R&D institutes and foundations that support the DeepHub, thereby spearheading the widespread adoption and integration of the omlox standard. The DeepHub enables these organizations to develop and expand their research in the framework of real-time location data.
If you are interested in working with us and exploring the endless possibilities that the DeepHub can provide to your research domain, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Feel free to contact the co-author of this blog post and author of the Troplocer-App – Jakob Schyga, firstname.lastname@example.org.