STILL Uses Innovative Cloud Platform To Power Its Self-Managing cubeXX Forklift
Originally posted 5-April-2016 on the D!gitalist Magazine by SAP Digital Supply Networks | Business Networks
A unique concept vehicle that is unlike any other in the current marketplace, the cubeXX mobile forklift truck robot follows the motto “first in intralogistics” and promises to meet tomorrow’s daily workplace challenges on a variety of fronts. This innovative device is the product of STILL, an International Forklift Truck of the Year award-winning producer and distributor of forklift trucks, platform trucks, and tractors for commercial use.
From its headquarters in Germany, STILL maintains four interconnected production plants and employs more than 7,000 workers. In addition to its 14 domestic dealerships, the company operates 17 subsidiary companies abroad and supports an extensive network of 246 dealers around the world.
STILL’s cubeXX is truly a marvelous machine. Equipped with state-of-the-art sensor and scanning technology, it has the intelligence to communicate with a central network, manage its daily workflow independently, and adjust to new conditions in real time.
Upon receiving an incoming order, the cubeXX immediately begins to act on its own, automatically choosing the best mode of execution. Driving independently toward the necessary target, it uses its built-in sensors to avoid all obstacles in its path. After locating and securing a specified item, the cubeXX navigates to its intended destination and deposits its load safely and securely. It then automatically reports the completion of its task, building an ongoing record of its daily deliveries.
The power of the Internet of Things
This model of independence and interconnectivity places STILL on the cutting edge of what it sees as the next important step in the evolution of modern business practices. According to the STILL chief of sales, Thomas Fischer, “the trend is already shifting from ‘higher, faster, further’ toward creating an intelligent network.” He adds, “It’s about becoming more efficient and linking business processes with the Internet of Things.”
As confirmed by a recent article in Wired Magazine, the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of those “next big things” in the high-tech world that cannot be underestimated. Using cloud computing and data-gathering networks, the IoT facilitates instantaneous mobile and virtual connections to coordinate a range of quantifying sensors and enable effective machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.
Harnessing the power of the IoT allows the cubeXX to run interactively. According to SAP’s vice president of M2M and IoT Engineering, Uwe Kubach, this technology enables the processing of large data volumes, which are generated by the cubeXX’s various sensors and equipment on an ongoing basis.
In-memory computing allows STILL to connect each forklift’s scanning and processing technology to a customer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and warehouse management system. In this way, tapping into the IoT helps STILL coordinate vehicle data in the cloud in order to track and interrelate information that ranges from records of operating hours to detailed equipment diagnoses.
Kubach points to STILL and its cubeXX as examples of how to take advantage of IoT technology in two ways. “First of all,” he says, “there is the optimization of existing business processes such as maintenance. Secondly, a forklift will no longer be sold as a discreet product, but as a service that is invoiced according to the weight of goods transported.”
Looking to the future
By furthering innovative business models in fields such as logistics operations and “transport as a service,” IoT technologies are contributing to an impending operational revolution in a wide range of markets and industries.
Over the coming months and years, STILL plans to use intelligent IT networking to enable its fleet of cubeXX units to communicate with one another. According to Thomas Fischer, these units will then gain the capacity to reassign transplant orders without the need for human intervention or oversight.
“This is the intelligence of the future,” Fischer contends, “and I believe we are taking the first important step forward with a partnership between SAP and STILL.”
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Lori Jaeger is a Solution Manager with the Industrial Machinery & Components (IM&C) global industry solution management team at SAP. Based in Green Bay, WI, she has been with SAP for 14+ years, all focused on IM&C. Prior to joining SAP, Lori spent 13 years working in the industrial manufacturing sector, implementing SAP at a local company, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. In addition to Solution Manager duties, Lori also holds the role of Go-to-Market Lead for Industrial Machinery and Components.