New technologies for networking in the logistics laboratory
Ask Alexa or Siri what the weather is going to be like before you go out, control music playlists or set a timer while you cook. - Many are already familiar with voice assistants as a useful tool in everyday life.
Smart home devices range from lamps to blinds to sockets that can be controlled from anywhere. In the warehouse logistics laboratory at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, students of the bachelor's degree programme Transport Engineering / Logistics (TWL) can learn, understand and try out technologies for themselves. In the courses Warehouse Technology and Organisation as well as Material Flow Planning and Material Flow Technology and Automation, these are, for example, getting to know the Internet of Things or Bluetooth Low Energy through independent programming.
Internet of Things technologies: Sensors provide important information
Many users are familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT) for smart (household) devices.
household) devices. This is a system of sensors in systems, machines or devices that are connected to the internet. This enables users to set up a wide variety of automations, for example to control the heating specifically or to coordinate the start of the washing machine with the yield of the photovoltaic system. In logistics, for example, smart containers transmit information on interior temperature, vibrations or humidity, which can be accessed from anywhere via a cloud solution. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Henning Strubelt explains how the IoT is used in the logistics laboratory: "In the laboratory, we have an IoT model with various sensors, NFC/RFID, i.e. contactless communication technologies, which are used, for example, in the registration of goods in logistics, cloud connection and the possibility of remote monitoring".
Networking via Bluetooth Low Energy: advantages of the technology
It is not only the Internet of Things that is familiar from everyday life: Since the Corona warning app, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is not only known to developers. The wireless technology ensures that devices can be networked with each other within a range of about 10 metres. BLE chips are built into many smartphones. The Corona warning app used the technology to measure the distance and duration of encounters between users. The advantages of BLE are also being used in the warehouse logistics lab: "We are experimenting with a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)-based tracking system to locate goods in the warehouse. BLE as an alternative to ultra-wideband (UWD) localisation is less accurate, but much more flexible and cost-effective.
Several antennas are installed in the room and receive the signals from so-called beacons, i.e. small wireless devices based on Bluetooth technology. The position of the beacons is determined by the different distances and resulting signal strengths between the antennas and the beacons. In the lab we are investigating how this information can be used efficiently and what influence obstacles, distances and installation locations have on the accuracy of the position determination," explains Prof. Dr.-Ing. Henning Strubelt.
The warehouse logistics laboratory is permanently being further developed and equipped with new technologies to bring it up to the current technical standard. Prof. Strubelt reports: "We are currently in the process of installing a new programmable logic controller for flow production in the laboratory as well as graphic support for the employees at the assembly workstations. This will enable the students to independently determine the assembly sequence and directly experience the effects of their own planning."
Further information on the study programme is available at www.hs-bremerhaven.de/twl.