Research, the way we generate synergy between Industry and Academy, continues to promote valuable projects in different technological areas.

In this case we intoduce SGM (Sistema de Gestión de Montacargas), a project by Joel Estramil.

To go back to the beginning of the project, Diego Garat, head of Research, tells us that everything started with a workshop proposed by Pablo Marrero. Pablo’s original idea was to address topics related to IPS (Indoor Positioning System) techniques, with special focus on their practical applications.

IPS is a network of devices used to wirelessly locate objects or people inside a building.

Joel, who is the developer of the Pyxis e-commerce team, explained that after talking with Pablo in an Open Space, he got enthusiastic with the idea of the workshop and that this coincided with the moment when he was looking for a topic for his graduation project. In this way the workshop was slowly turning into Joel’s grade project, who worked with Nicolás Montesdeoca.

The first task was to define which IPS technique was to be used and for what purpose. In this instance, Brian Hill and Leonardo Mena were in charge of surveying the different possibilities and carrying out the first tests. In the beginning, geomagnetism was chosen; this form of IPS maps the objects from the geomagnetic differences induced by the metal structure of the buildings themselves and from which it is possible to track objects. But geomagnetism was ruled out after a few tests due to the margin of error it has.

The option that ended up fulfilling the expectations was Ultra-wideband (UWB), which was much more accurate. Joel explains that this technology allows devices to exchange a large amount of information quickly and that is where its precision lies, since it allows to identify changes in the position of objects in very limited periods of time.

Accuracy is vital when it comes to locating objects within a structure. Diego Garat explains that the difference with GPS is precisely in the accuracy of the UWB. For example, when we receive a location in real time through the cell phone, the triangulation that our devices perform can yield a margin of error of several feets, which is not problematic if the purpose is to locate someone at some point in the city. But in the case of the IPS, this margin of error is not acceptable, because inside a building we could not even establish in what room the object we want to locate is. In the case of the UWB, the margin of error is reduced to some inches.

Regarding the purpose and practical uses that can be given to this technology, Joel advanced in his degree project in the geolocation of forklifts within warehouses.

Once defined the technology and the practical use that was going to be given, Pyxis imported from Estonia the necessary devices, to carry out the first tests and to develop a prototype.

Joel began testing in environments of around 8mts2 simulating shelves and roads that hypothetically would trace a forklift. From these routes, the level of precision obtained by the UWB was analyzed and the results were very good. The developed prototype provided an almost exact position of the routes made.

Tracking the paths of several forklifts inside a warehouse has a number of advantages. For example, by knowing them, it is possible to optimize the routes, obtaining for each case the shortest route. In addition, the user of the forklift knows all the time the level of stocks and where each product is located, avoiding unnecessary displacements.

Joel tells us that his project was limited to 10 months, but that the field to investigate in this area is infinite. For example, something that was looked for before starting work was to generate information in real time; but that was impossible due to the huge amount of information exchanged by the devices. In this sense the information generated was processed later and in this way the mapping of the routes was established.

Joel says he is satisfied with the developed prototype, because it manages to locate elements within a building with an error margin close to zero.

About the future of the project, he tells us that there are many ways to advance and deepen this technology. For example, achieving the way to obtain information in real time. In addition, Joel points out that the applications developed with UWB technology are extremely beneficial for companies that handle a large number of merchandise and several forklifts in their warehouses, due to the fact that it manages to optimize stock management and make freight elevator movements more efficient.