THE INVENTORY CHALLENGE

Most companies rely on regular manual inventory checks to improve stock accuracy in their warehouses. The reasons are manifold: they might have no or only a simple WMS unable to provide reliable stock information; company or government policies might require recurrent inventory checks; or customers might request stock pictures at a specific date e.g. in 3PL scenarios.

Traditionally, stock taking is either performed with a paper-based or handheld approach. The paper-based inventory is prone to errors and requires a lot of manual labour. While the handheld version improves on some of those challenges, it still requires a manual check of every single location.

Especially in high-shelf warehouses, this either means moving all overhead stock down to the floor or moving the operator up to the high levels so that the stock can be counted. This activity is not only time consuming but also dangerous for the operators.

LEA REPLYTM INVENTORY BY DRONE

This is possible with Logistics Reply’s efficient LEA ReplyTM Drone: thanks to our solution, companies can reduce their stock taking efforts up to a staggering 70% with minimal staffing and investment costs!

Our award winning inventory by drone solution completely changes the way companies perform their stock checks.

OUR OFFERING: LEA INVENTORY BY DRONE

By relying on a manually guided drone, the solution is not a future fantasy but is a reality today – already live in production for many of our customers. Notably this solution was chosen by one of the biggest food & beverage manufacturing companies in the world, which operates 24/7 with very high volumes every day, to perform a semi-automated physical inventory check. Our customers put their trust in our drone solution for the following reasons:

Based on our real-life experience with customers, the average time for the check of a single storage location takes 5 seconds or less – including all efforts necessary to manage the drone (like battery changes).

The drone reliably recognizes barcodes of storage locations and stock, comparing the expected and as-is situation. For each location a picture is recorded, allowing the operator to perform a double-check on unclear situations from the comfort of his workstation.

Neither stock nor the operator needs to be moved from or to great heights – the drone does the job, reducing mistakes and injuries to none. During the entire process, the drone itself remains under the complete control and constant supervision of the pilot, so that the inventory can be executed in parallel with normal warehouse operations.

With our intuitive LEA ReplyTM Inventory web interface, the drone inventory progress and results can be easily monitored in real-time. The control center acts as a bridge between the WMS and the drone, by being in charge of giving missions and commands to the drone according to WMS processes status.

While the solution natively integrates with our LEA ReplyTM WMS, it also works well with any other WMS. The stock data can be integrated either via API interfaces or Excel file – allowing for immediate start-up of the solution without complex projects.

COMING SOON: FULLY AUTONOMOUS INVENTORY BY DRONES

Logistics Reply has always been at the forefront in researching fully autonomous drone-based solutions for monitoring and service activities in the warehouse. Our innovative prototype allows for an inventory by drone process that functions completely independently and autonomously, without any human intervention. However, before this solution is ready for large scale adoption in the industry, some hurdles need to be overcome.
AUTONOMOUS DRONES AND LEGISLATION
The technological development to use autonomous drones is still in its infancy and is often hampered by regulatory obstacles and occupational safety. Automated processes that involve computer-guided autonomous drones are treated like other human-robot collaboration applications, with extremely strict safety regulations (e.g. compare ISO TS 15066), that are not easy to interpret and adapt to the process at hand. For manual drones it is clearly defined that the pilot has to know the general drone guidelines and is responsible for the flight and to comply with the rules, such as keeping the minimum distance from other people. A trained pilot can operate the drone in a safe and controlled way – supported by the additional safety features of the drone e.g. a propeller guard, speed control and distance sensors.
TECHNICAL CHALLENGES
The main challenge of autonomous flight is the implementation of an indoor navigation system to allow a precise localization of the drone: on the market there are no off-the-shelf solutions to accomplish this task. Standard sensors like GPS that are deployed in a drone neither achieve the required precision nor do they work well indoors. Our fully-functional prototype takes the first step to overcome this problem: the smart combination of intelligent sensors, image recognition and advanced algorithms allowed us to build a drone solution with 10 cm localization precision. To achieve an even higher precision of less than 5 cm, we are currently experimenting with the use of UWB (Ultra-Wide Band) technology.

ARE YOU READY FOR TAKE OFF?

Logistics Reply has always strongly believed in the potential of drone technology to support people’s tasks in warehouse environments. Drones are cost-effective, intuitive and efficient solutions to any inventory challenge and not only: they also combine well with cutting-edge technologies, such as AI, to potentially optimize intralogistics flows even further.

This is only the beginning of the new age of flight: trust us and together we can take you to new heights!

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