Zebra launches intelligent loading system in bid to drive connected supply chain
Zebra launches intelligent loading system in bid to drive connected supply chain

Zebra launches intelligent loading system in bid to drive connected supply chain

US-based tracking technology company Zebra Technologies is set to launch a new product to improve the loading of goods in public and private trailers.

Dubbed the SmartPack Trailer, the product is targeted at transport and logistics companies looking to make the most of the capacity in their trailers. It is set to launch today at materials handling and supply chain conference ProMat 2017, taking place in Chicago.

Zebra estimates that as much as 30 percent of the storage space in trailers is currently not being used. Using 3D sensing and camera technology, SmartPack can increase this capacity to 85 percent, the company claims.

An improvement on this scale will not only save large logistics operators millions, it will also reduce their environmental impact.

Catering to the on-demand economy

According to Zebra, trailers are often loaded improperly due a lack of visibility in the loading process. This represents a waste in the space available, resulting in more trucks on the road at a greater cost to operators and to the environment.

In the UK alone, trucks represent 22 percent of surface transport emissions, and it is estimated that by 2040, more than 100 million working days will be lost to traffic congestion, as stated in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement. There is therefore a growing need to improve logistics efficiency.

Indeed, Tom Bianculli, CTO at Zebra, stated: “Given the rise of the ‘on-demand economy’, driven by e-commerce and the expectation of instant delivery, the need for solutions that can further optimize speed, accuracy and efficiency of the loading process are vital.”

Read more: HPE’s ‘proof of concept’ approach to future supply chain improvements

The SmartPack Trailer will allow logistics companies to capture operational data such as load density, trailer fullness, images of loads in progress and number of packages scanned and loaded per hour.

The data provided by the 3D sensors and camera technology on the loading dock will help organizations to eliminate wasted space and time, decreasing the number of trailers on the road, and thereby reducing fuel and maintenance costs.

SmartPack Trailer can be integrated with various enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to track volumetric efficiency, load rate and when a load is nearing completion. Drivers can be alerted in advance when a trailer is about to be closed out, resulting in lower dwell time and freeing up the dock so a new load can begin.

Businesses will also be able to use the images to assess the lifting techniques of their employees, while enabling loading dock supervisors to make on-the-spot decisions to help employees work faster and more efficiently. This, Zebra says, should help to reduce worker turnover and injury, theft, loss and damage of parcels with every trailer load.

Ultimately, this represents part of Zebra’s desire to build a smarter, more connected supply chain.

Read more: Could IoT put an end to the supply chain blame game?