The Smart Pallet, Ericsson, LogTrade

What is a Smart Pallet?

An EUR pallet is ingenious in its simplicity. It is a cheap and standardized object that fits in everywhere in the delivery chain. If you provide the pallet with a unique identity in a logistics network where everyone can talk to everyone, it becomes a Smart Pallet than can also be used as a small logistics hub.

The Smart Pallet we are using for the demonstrations is manufactured and delivered by Nefab. Nefab has done two things to bring Internet connectivity to the pallet:

  1. Attached a QR code carrying the pallet’s unique identifier.
  2. Attached a Bluetooth hub underneath the pallet that can sense the objects that are added to the pallet, provided the items are tagged with a small transmitter.

Number two is secondary at this point. The QR code, or the unique identifier embedded in it, is what changes everything we know about logistics today. It is this code that makes the pallet traceable in a visible way that has not been previously possible. That means it’s visible to everyone who wants to and can trace it.

The unique identifier can be understood and accessed by anyone anywhere in the world. The explanation for how is threefold:

  1. Ericsson’s global standard for logistics, the Internet of Logistics (IoL) provides a unique identity to all pallets and objects on the pallet.
  2. The IoL is an open standard accessible via Ericsson’s Connected Logistics Cloud (CLC).
  3. LogTrade provides access to CLC.

The Pallet Has Been Given A Language

What makes The Smart Pallet so magical is that it has been given Internet connectivity and you can start using it via LogTrade. The network contains live information about the pallet, such as where it is, where it is going, or what it contains. The network is open, which means it is accessible to everyone throughout the delivery chain, sort of like the Internet is open to ordinary people like you and me via a browser.

... Changes everything we know about logistics today.

Consequently, it does not matter if you are a DB Schenker truck driver transporting the pallet with your truck, if the pallet is right next to you in a parking garage, or if you are moving things to or from it with your bike. If you have an app that can scan the QR code, and the rights to access it, you can talk to the pallet. You can, for example, tell the pallet that it has been assigned as a reloading location or a moving warehouse that adapts to the needs of your recipients.

Packages have been given Internet connectivity—an Internet for logistics

Until now, no pallets or other objects or actors in the logistics industry have spoken the same language. Everyone and everything has communicated with each other in many ways and languages. Packages have been given Internet connectivity—an Internet for logistics.

The most amazing thing about the pallet is not that it can become or is an Internet of Things (IoT) device, even if it will make managing and tracking deliveries much easier in the future. (Read more about Nefab's services here.) No. The amazing thing is that the pallet has been given a language that everyone speaks. This means it can say hello loto you. And you can say hello to the pallet. That is smart, indeed.

How is CLC Connected to IoL?

The smart pallet opens new business possibilities. You can read about some examples of that above. Do you want to start using The Smart Pallet and/or the IoL? With LogTrade, you can. As part of our strategic partnership with Ericsson, we have built in support for Ericsson’s CLC in our system. The only thing you have to do is activate the feature in your LogTrade plan.

The Bluetooh Hub

The Bluetooth hub turns the pallet into an IoT device—meaning an Internet of Things device. The hub is a sensor. As Ericsson’s IoT network is expanded—the base stations for the Narrow Band G4 standard, for example—there will no longer be a need for someone to scan the QR code on the pallet when it leaves or arrives at a destination or when an item is put into or taken out of it—the pallet will tell you itself. This, among other things, will be possible because sensors and tags can be made very small and energy efficient, with a battery life of 20 years. The sensors can be used for much more than just automatically reporting what is on the pallet and what has been taken off of it. A sensor can also tell you about the temperature and humidity at the pallet’s location and whether it has been bumped during transport, for example.

Read More: This Is How to Start Using The Smart Pallet