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Low-cost Sensor Technology –
trends, potential, and field tests

The Trend Research Team of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation has recently launched a new trend report, entitled Low-cost Sensor Technology to explore the current trend of devices being used in the consumer electronic industry entering the business world and also the logistics industry.

The potential for low-cost sensors in the logistics industry had previously been highlighted in our highly acclaimed Logistics Trend Radar – a dynamic, living document designed to help DHL and our customers derive new strategies and develop more powerful projects and innovations.

From consumer electronics to business applications

This report examines technical solutions from the consumer electronics area that are currently being transferred to business applications, particularly in the logistics industry. The reason for this shift is that these solutions are highly innovative and, with mass production, can be realized at very low cost.

An exciting example is the sensor from a Microsoft Kinect gaming console which is now being applied to volume measurement in logistics, helping to reduce the bottlenecks and delays caused by pallet scanning and weighing.

The corporate ‘bring your own device’ approach has been triggered by employees expecting work devices to provide the same functionality as their personally owned smartphones and tablets. These consumer electronic devices contain a high number of sensors that capture the environment – acceleration, position, light, language, and more. The logistics industry has recognized the potential of these sensors, particularly because of the cost savings of mass production. When multiple sensors must be supplied across a typically large logistics network, cost is a fundamental issue.

With low-cost sensor technology, DHL anticipates sharing many new benefits with customers – better network utilization with volume control, less CO2 at optimum loading, parking space monitoring in warehouses, integrity monitoring and documentation of damages…the list can go on and on!