We optimized a warehouse together with an internationally renowned logistics service provider. The task was to perpetuate the flow of material from a high bay warehouse to workers at the packaging stations in order to keep the people there continuously busy. The critical thing was to come to a dynamic arrangement in the warehouse. Dynamic means, in the basic requirement for a large grocery warehouse, for example, something like placing seasonal goods – say, chocolate Easter bunnies, to be topical – in the locations in the warehouse that can be reached the fastest. But there are also much more subtle correlations that a person may not even realize. This is why we also installed a system that learns in real time and which can favorably position goods that are in high demand at certain times in variable cycles proactively.
How are learning warehouses controlled?
It could have been done with a central computer. Aside from an energy requirement that is high but, in the long run, not more economical, such a system also has the disadvantage of not being scalable with the size of the warehouse – for warehouses of different sizes, you would need central computers of different sizes. This is why we spread the problem out and gave each storage unit a minicomputer. These minicomputers do not need to compute any comprehensive, overall solution, only a partial solution. They then communicate it only to the storage units in their immediate vicinity. If I then have adequate natural light in the warehouse and can give the computers a solar solution, I end up with an autonomous selflearning system.
Are there special infrastructural requirements for this, such as 5G?
5G is more important for use on the road if I want to control driverless vehicles or delivery drones. Although I also need to integrate intelligence into the respective cars in that case. On one side, even a highperformance computer routing an entire fleet of drones reaches its limit at some point. And on the other side, a 5G connection can naturally be interrupted at times. This is why I need at least enough intelligence in a delivery drone that it can safely exit traffic if there is a problem.
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