It is not uncommon for a few boxes of valuable goods to disappear from palettes on the way to retail outlets. That is why Fraunhofer IIS is working on a new technical platform to safeguard such items. This involves using wireless ad-hoc sensor networks to create logistical information systems that allow them to be tracked along the entire distribution chain.
Fraunhofer IIS is showing the VitOL project, a technological platform for the realization of logistical information systems based on sensor networks at French European Union Presidency Conference in Nice, France.
Intelligent logistical objects – so-called “smart items” – for the distribution of high-value or sensitive goods are being developed within the framework of the Fraunhofer VitOL project. By fitting small computers with communications facilities into logistical objects, each item becomes active part of the IT-solution. Because they are “intelligent” in their own right, they represent significant added value in comparison with classic “passive” RFID systems that only transmit their information when called upon to do so. This solves fundamental problems in distribution logistics and means, for example, that smart items can increase the transparency of goods flows by, amongst other things, making a comprehensive record of all items in a consignment.
This also creates an active retail surveillance system, because smart items notice when something is removed from the consignment and informs the superior IT system of the loss. This not only restricts losses from within the flow of goods: the sensors can also register any manipulation or incorrect handling.
Self-organizing wireless sensor networks provide the technology on which such processes are based. Their main characteristic is the ability of all participants to communicate with each other through various meshed communication possibilities. Because every participant can simultaneously act as source and sink as well as a conduit for the data, coverage, flexibility, autonomy and fault tolerance are all increased.
The necessary elements, such as ad-hoc network mechanisms, network protocols with power-saving media access tiers and efficient routing algorithms, distributed services and middleware, and application-specific software, are all being developed at Fraunhofer IIS Communication Networks Department. In the affiliated Center for Intelligent Objects, scientists design and optimize suitable logistical scenarios, analyze business processes and develop solutions for application-based information technology systems.
At French European Presidency Conference Fraunhofer experts show with the help of the VitOL demonstrator, how theft-prevention with smart items works. For more information please visit http://www.atl.fraunhofer.de/smart-objects
VitOL is a Fraunhofer in-house project in which diverse Fraunhofer Institutes work together to create a technological platform for the realization of logistical information systems based on sensor networks.
The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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