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Smart cameras at ODTH

Smooth logistics

  • Koen Peters
    Koen Peters

Around 150 trucks come and go each day at logistics company ODTH, transporting more than 3,000 tons of goods. Streamlining these transport operations is not an easy task. Flexso helped ODTH install smart cameras that use automated number plate recognition or ANPR, fully integrated within the existing SAP system. The result is a smooth logistics process and happy customers.

Bart Weymans, project and innovation manager at ODTH: “Waiting times for truck drivers at the entrance and exit of our site were often quite long. Not only was this annoying for the drivers, these queues also put additional pressure on our staff. We really needed to do something.” 

Innovation for future growth

Innovation is a common theme within ODTH. The company has previously rolled out several solutions to optimize goods storage and introduced automated goods conveyance across their warehouses. Bart: “At ODTH, innovation is more than just a buzzword. We are always on the lookout for new technologies, such as the Internet of Things, that we can employ to make our daily operations more efficient.”

With help from Flexso – a long-standing partner of ODTH – Bart and his team started brainstorming. “During the Design Thinking workshop, Flexso’s consultants encouraged us to think outside the box. We had been considering using a number plate recognition system for some time. The technical support we received from Flexso helped us put the concept into practice, with great success! Creative ideas and advanced tools are valuable but have an even bigger impact when they are integrated into SAP solution environments.” 

A smooth and secure flow of goods

The new system is simple yet a game changer. When a truck arrives, the number plate is scanned for the first time by an ANPR camera. The driver then progresses to the booth behind the boom barriers, where he or she can easily submit all cargo details via the user-friendly app. After the driver’s identity card is also scanned, the truck can go through to the brand-new parking lot.

The info recorded via the camera and the app is then sent in real time to a security guard, who will check the driver’s identity from a tablet. “Site security is very important to us: we know exactly who is at our site at any given time,” Bart explains. After everything is checked off, the guard can add the truck driver to the ‘white list’ with a single press of a button on the tablet. The white list includes all trucks that are permitted inside the loading and unloading areas. While the driver continues to this area, another ANPR camera will scan the truck’s number plate a second time. The gates will only open when the number plate appears in the white list. 

To integrate all the hardware – screens, gates, cameras – with the SAP system, Flexso relied on Aptus. The internet of things integrator also keeps track of the history and management of the innovative system in a web application and delivered the hardware for the booth. 

“By putting together creative minds and technology experts, we were able to develop an innovative solution that works.”
Bart Weymans, Project Manager at ODTH

Quick and efficient processes

“The first big difference we saw was at the booth where drivers register their details, as language barriers are now a thing of the past,” Bart continues. “Although our guards do speak some French, English and German, it was a real challenge for them to communicate with Bulgarian or Croatian drivers, for instance. The app used at the booth is available in 14 different languages. There are also three terminals available, which saves a lot of time in comparison to when there was just one guard.”

The innovative solution has a positive impact on job allocation strategies at the site as well. Bart: “Everyone used to complete a variety of tasks in addition to their own duties and responsibilities. Planners would assist with processing bills of lading, guards had to help out with the registration of driver details, etc. By introducing a more automated process, all our staff can now fully concentrate on their core tasks.”

Step by step towards success

This project is proof that innovative ideas combined with the best technical support can have a major impact. “Our internal team worked hand in hand with the consultant team at Flexso,” Bart adds. “Flexso implemented the necessary software to link the cameras to the existing SAP system. They also designed how transport would flow from the entrance to the loading and unloading bays. By developing the solution step by step in partnership with Flexso, we were able to tackle unexpected issues along the way, without incurring major costs or delays.”

“The consultant team at Flexso added many other functionalities as well, such as SAP Gateway, which links non-SAP elements to certain SAP tools. They also developed the applications used by the security guards and at the booths. The new planning module in SAP is so much more advanced than the Excel sheet we used to use. Despite its broad scope and complexity, the entire project was executed within budget and time constraints. This was probably partly due to the strong partnership we’ve developed with Flexso.”

The ANPR project wasn’t the first and will not be the last innovation implemented by ODTH. Bart: “With the registration process for trucks arriving at the site now fully automated, we are considering setting up a similar system for trucks that leave our site. We also want to add sensors near the loading and unloading bays, and optimize those processes using the Internet of Things. We look forward to partnering with Flexso again for those projects.” 

Looking for creative and smart SAP solutions for your business challenges? The team at Flexso is here to help! Contact us today. 

About Aptus
Aptus support companies in their new digital ventures by inventing, creating and developing tools, applications and Internet of Things solutions. They are creative technologists who approach innovation differently: they experiment freely, tinker and make ideas come to life from the earliest moment possible and believe strongly in tangible and interactive ideas. 

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