H.Essers is investing in the future with company-wide innovations

H.Essers is investing in the future with company-wide innovations

While drones may one day be incorporated into container transport solutions, this innovation is not yet available to the logistics sector. Nevertheless, we offer our clients a wide range of other innovative projects and solutions. Tom Gielen, Head of Engineering at H.Essers, discusses this in more detail.

H.Essers is currently working on at least ten innovation projects, each of which aim to create added value for clients in terms of costs, quality, safety or sustainability. ‘Innovation is in our DNA,’ says Tom Gielen. ‘Take our solar panel pilot, for instance. We’re currently equipping several trailers with solar panels to reduce diesel consumption by reducing engine load. If our data show positive and feasible effects, we’ll roll it out company-wide to create a more energy-neutral fleet.’

Augmented reality and automation

We’ve also been busy in our warehouses. ‘For the past few months, we’ve been using augmented reality projections to help our operators prepare temperature-controlled shipments for the pharmaceutical industry. If our operators make a mistake, the projector shows them how to correct it. We’re also exploring the possibility of using SLAM technology to help us with visual stock-keeping in our warehouses. We used to scan our inventory manually, which was a complex and time-consuming job that can now be done in no time by a moving camera. And we’ve got several additional automation projects in the pipeline, which include the use of robotic process automation (RPA). This gives our administrative employees more time to focus on tasks that add value for our clients.’

Safety and ergonomics

Our projects also focus on safety and well-being, with the help of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other solutions. ‘Using smarter machines and forklifts and forwarding real-time data gives us more insight into unsafe situations. For example, we now know in advance when a machine needs maintenance and we can configure our on-board computers and settings based on the skills and needs of our operators. We’re also researching tools and devices that can help our employees work more ergonomically.’

Unnoticed

But most implementations, as innovative as they may be, will largely go unnoticed. ‘Our goal is to have these technologies and programmes merge seamlessly with the work of our employees to ultimately make their jobs easier. The autonomous cleaning robot we use in our warehouses was specifically configured to not disturb our employees while they work. In addition, route and capacity planning is now supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and smart algorithms, which helps our planners find the most optimal solution much faster. And thanks to the online portal, our drivers can automatically log in and receive additional assistance at our locations.’

‘But I promise you, when that spectacular world first does happen, you’ll be the first to know. Our company tracks innovations like these as they happen and then determines the best way to roll them out for our employees and clients.’