In the bustling environment of today’s warehouses and manufacturing facilities, digitalization and automation are at the forefront of enabling increased productivity, efficiency, and safety. The integration of advanced AI technologies and more reliance on autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have been the key to securing the future growth of businesses in the intralogistics sector.

However, as much as this is a positive and exciting direction, the adoption rate for AMRs is not exponential. Many businesses still require solutions to enable digitalization, improve utilization of their current vehicles, and optimize their processes. In addition, many businesses that do adopt AMRs will still have a big proportion of their vehicles that are manually driven. These businesses can benefit from integrating these vehicles into their fleet management systems, therefore creating an ecosystem that supports global optimization of operations.

This is where the efficient, accurate, and reliable tracking of manually driven vehicles becomes crucial to operational success – paving the way for the adoption of increased automation. 

In this blog, we focus on the innovative “inside-out” approach to vehicle tracking, compared to the more traditional “outside-in” method, brought by the integration of Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (Visual SLAM) technology, which is at the core of Slamcore Aware.

From Outside-In to Inside-Out Tracking

The “outside-in” tracking approach is currently the most used tracking method for vehicles in warehouses and manufacturing facilities. It relies on antennas and sensors being installed around the facility where tracking is required. Each vehicle is equipped with a tag that can be detected by the sensors when the asset itself is near them. 

This means that the antennas and sensors, installed outside of the vehicle, do the actual intelligent tracking of what is inside their field of view. Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are the more traditional outside-in tracking solutions.

These methods, although effective in some applications, come with limitations, notably the need for extensive, expensive setup and the challenges of maintaining and scaling such infrastructure. Furthermore, it requires detailed planning of where the assets should be tracked, rather than focusing on what assets to track. The return on investment for outside-in methods is maximized when the area is constrained and the number of items in that area is high.

Slamcore Aware, on the other hand, uses the “inside-out” tracking method by equipping the industrial vehicle with the intelligence to understand its position within the environment using cameras and advanced algorithms. By using advanced AI and state-of-the-art computer vision technology, the system can robustly estimate its position in any part of the facility. Inside-out tracking therefore focuses on what assets to track without the limitations of where to track the assets themselves.

This inside-out approach offers several compelling advantages for tracking manually driven material handling vehicles, which are pivotal in day-to-day warehouse operations:

  1. Unparalleled Flexibility

With visual SLAM and the advanced AI of Slamcore Aware, vehicles can be seamlessly tracked across various parts of a facility without the need for environmental modifications, offering operational agility that is particularly beneficial in dynamic and changing warehouse layouts. 

  1. Independence from External Infrastructure

By eliminating the need for a dense network of fixed sensors, it significantly reduces initial setup costs and ongoing maintenance, enabling faster deployments and introducing the option of incremental rollout of Slamcore Aware. Operations can be expanded with ease as modifying warehouse layouts does not require an increase in tracking infrastructure, making Slamcore Aware a future-proof solution for growing businesses. 

  1. High Accuracy and Reliability

Slamcore Aware provides precise position and orientation information, crucial for ensuring the efficiency of manual vehicle operations, even in densely packed or rapidly changing environments. By knowing the orientation of the vehicles, the operators can determine what bay the forks of the vehicle are facing and therefore which location the vehicle has picked up and dropped stock into. This enables the removal of the tedious scanning for each location by the driver, creating a more smooth and therefore efficient operation. 

  1. Facilitating Enhanced Operational Insights

Beyond tracking, the richer data collected by Slamcore Aware can offer unparalleled insights into operational bottlenecks, traffic flow optimization, and the opportunity to enhance safety measures. This enables warehouse and facility operators to have a truthful insight into their operation, empowering them to streamline tasks, routes, and utilization of assets.

  1. Seamless Integration with Autonomous Vehicle Systems

Thanks to the real-time tracking at high frequency, the information can be shared and used by autonomous vehicles deployed in the facility. This allows a mixed fleet operation to analyze the data for issues within their current processes, while also allowing the opportunity to optimize workflows to more efficiently manage their autonomy.

Looking Ahead: The Impact on Manual Vehicle Operations

The adoption of Slamcore Aware for tracking manually driven vehicles is more than a technological upgrade – it’s a strategic investment in operational excellence. As manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics facilities strive to meet the increasing demands of speed, accuracy, and efficiency, Slamcore Aware offers a pathway to achieving these goals for both manual and mixed fleet operations. We bridge the gap, enabling a seamless collaboration between manual and autonomous vehicles. Slamcore Aware is breaking down barriers and building a future where manual and autonomous vehicles work side-by-side.

The future of manual vehicle tracking has arrived with Slamcore Aware. This technology’s inside-out approach not only addresses the limitations of traditional systems but also opens up new possibilities for enhancing the productivity and efficiency of manual vehicle operations. As the industry continues to evolve, Slamcore Aware stands out as a key enabler of smarter, more responsive warehouse and manufacturing environments.