Now also arrived in logistics: The Internet of Things

With the VisTA project (Visibility of Transport Assets), REWE Group, one of Europe’s leading retail and travel companies, has taken a decisive step in its logistics and shipment tracking processes towards the internet of things and services. The EHI Retail Institute now awarded the VisTA project the Retail Technology Award in the category “Best Enterprise Solution”. Congratulations!

But let’s start from the beginning: What is VisTA all about?

The REWE Group owns around 250,000 items of material handling equipment, amongst others upscale refrigerated containers, which are constantly in transit between warehouses, stores, and disposal facilities. By tagging all equipment items with RFID chips and tracking them online at every stage of the delivery process, REWE generates and processes tons of data. To be precise: roughly six million data points from 30 logistic locations and over 10,000 REWE Group stores each day! These data are then merged with master data of REWE’s central store management, processed by event and transaction, and maintained in a transparent and auditable form.

Of course, this end-to-end networking affects REWE’s operational bottom line:

First, in the fast-moving food retailing business, REWE always knows where its merchandise and material handling equipment units are currently located. Costs are allocated to each participant in the logistics chain on the basis of these data.

Secondly, REWE fully automated the record-keeping logistic process and made it more transparent. Until now, keeping track of individual units of material handling equipment was a manual and often human error-prone activity.

Rules technology is facilitator

A central element to achieve this constant overview of transportation flows is rules technology from Bosch Software Innovations. REWE uses rules technology to set up more than 300 business rules, which identify incorrect bookings. The logistics team is now able to graphically model all target processes along the logistics chain for more convenience and transparency. Today, with the aid of this enhanced logistics tracking system, deviations in the product and material handling equipment inventories are identified and corrected in real time.

By the way: VisTA is part of REWE’s central store management system ZAM, which received a similar Retail Technology Award in 2010.

When you do your next grocery shopping, look out for refrigerated containers and smile at the cashier – you know how it all works in the background now.

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About the author

Anita Bunk

Anita Bunk

I am the head of communications at Bosch Software Innovations and cover the Internet of Things (IoT). In the past, I was part of international technology and innovation marketing teams. What I enjoy most in my job is sharing with a greater audience the passion that engineers put in developing a high-tech product. My background is a master in communications and a diploma in political science.