Vanas Engineering and ART4L band together on demo project
We all know that Log!Ville is the place to be for co-creation, a fact that has once again been demonstrated by our Innovation Partner Vanas Engineering and Start2Scale-Up Partner ART4L. The two companies have decided to join forces by combining and demonstrating the technologies they offer. Andy Van Mieghem, managing director of Vanas Engineering, and ART4L CEO Piet van Remortel and CTO Dirk Matheussen tell us how the partnership came into being.
"Vanas Engineering started off in 1946 fitting out warehouses and workshops, and over the years it has come to specialise in installing warehouse fittings, including vertical storage systems," says Andy Van Mieghem. "We have also created our own WMS software for managing these semiautomatic storage systems. Solutions such as these mean that up to 90 percent of space can be saved while productivity is also increased and the work is performed error-free. A number of years back, Vanas moved in the direction of providing all-in solutions, and thanks to the integration of a range of components, the productivity of our elevator systems rose by 200 percent to some 400 order lines per picker per hour.
"This strategy was accelerated after the takeover of our Dutch partner, Pacoma Systems, which specialises in designing and integrating material handling systems such as sorting units, automated storage systems and motorised roller conveyors for boxes, crates and pallets.
"What this means is that we decided to focus on widening our focus. Today, as a system integrator we offer all-in solutions, which means we can integrate third-party systems in addition to our own systems. Given that we are unable to create all the components ourselves and the fact that the technology is developing at lightning speed, we look to specialists for the in-depth innovation projects. For example, there is no point in us creating our own packaging machine, but there is a point to integrating that machine's software in our WMS architecture, creating an all-in solution. That is the context of our partnership with ART4L," Andy concludes.
"ART4L focuses on visual handsfree solutions for logistics and industry clients," says Piet van Remortel. "Our core product, Smartpick SDK, is a software architecture that uses a range of solutions to link the operator to all the devices and systems involved, with an emphasis on working quickly and handsfree. The solution could be smart glasses, with augmented reality or another system for vision picking or vision sorting, while other devices – such as projectors, tablets and wrist computers – can also be supported in applications such as projector sorting and training systems for new operators. A WMS informs the operator where every item must be retrieved and the application guides them using visual information. This means both greater efficiency as well as far fewer errors. One can even integrate it with indoor positioning, which sees an operator guided on the most efficient route through the warehouse."
ART4L was born six years ago as a Bakkerij De Trog technological project for which Dirk Matheussen created the first picking applications using augmented reality and smart glasses. ART4L is itself an abbreviation of Augmented Reality Tools for Logistics.
"In reality, Smartpick SDK is a toolbox that is made available to systems integrators and developers," adds Dirk Matheussen. "We ask them for the WMS architecture and adapt our software accordingly. This makes co-creation and cooperative projects with our clients a fundamental part of our market approach."
"Vanas Engineering and ART4L first came into contact with each other around a year ago, and we very quickly realised that it would be to the advantage of both of us to join forces, including for batch picking tasks," says Andy Van Mieghem. "It is an excellent way to remove inefficiencies from the creation of small order lines – the items are combined per order in what is known as a put wall or pigeon wall. It remains challenging for an operator to place every SKU retrieved from the storage system in the correct slot without any errors, and vision technology such as Smartpick could make the task easier. This means the operator 'sees' the visual instructions on the put wall and quickly places the correct item in the correct slot. We provided this information to our WMS developers and they are examining the available options.
"The primary opportunity we identified was the more effective use of our Storeganizer, a low-entry and high-density storage system that allows for the efficient storage of smaller items. The system uses suspended and easily accessible locations that are manufactured from flexible industrial textile."
A joint demonstration
"Given that both of us are exhibiting our solutions in the Log!Ville demonstration centre, our partnership has been accelerated," says Dirk. "Vanas Engineering is exhibiting its Storeganizer, and so it occurred to us to install a put wall and employ our Smartpick solution in order to demonstrate a joint solution. We are presently involved in working out this setup."
"The joint demonstration can be created relatively quickly," adds Andy. "The difficult part is highlighting the very best that each system offers, and we are currently brainstorming the best approach. But once we have decided on our choices, the rest will follow speedily, and we may even be able to invite the first prospective clients in March."
"Log!Ville is an excellent place for exchanging knowledge," Piet concludes. "It isn't a hard sales environment where the desire to create a name predominates, but a location where one can engage in open discussions. And it is also perfect for testing new solutions, and we hope that in future we will be launching other joint projects with other Log!Ville partners."