Proximus has partnered with ID2Move, Phoenix-Tech and Deltrian International to launch Wallonia’s first warehouse management project using a drone coupled with 5G and artificial intelligence.
5G will be a game-changer for industry, also in Wallonia. Proximus and several of its partners unveiled a particularly promising 5G project in Nivelles, in the presence of Mathieu Michel, Secretary of State for Digitization, and Willy Borsus, the Walloon Minister for the Economy. Initiated by the Agence du Numérique, this project aims to leverage 5G and artificial intelligence to autonomously fly a drone into a covered storage warehouse to enable relevant, real-time information to be transmitted to the company’s stock manager. Although the solution will be tested at ID2Move’s premises in Nantes initially, the ultimate aim is to deploy it at Deltrian International’s Fleurus warehouses.
As all warehouse managers in industrial environments know, it is very difficult to monitor stock levels in real time and optimize locations. This is particularly true of Deltrian International, a company specializing in air filtration. Like other manufacturers, this Walloon company stocks a multitude of reference products in its warehouses.
These are stored on pallets of different sizes, in boxes of all shapes and sizes, sometimes at the front, sometimes high up, and sometimes deep down. Moreover, identifying them is sometimes made difficult by barcodes located in different places. Added to which, these barcodes are often damaged or illegible. As a result, Deltrian International employees often waste a lot of time locating and retrieving products, then checking that they correspond to the right part number and encoding the stock issue or receipt.
With the help of its partners, ID2Move and Phoenix-Tech and its subsidiary Proximus Ada, Proximus has developed a solution that will make it possible, for the first time, to fly a drone autonomously in a covered storage warehouse, so that relevant, real-time information can be transmitted to the company’s stock manager. To achieve this, the drone will rely on 5G, which enables faster, smoother and more stable information sharing, as well as on an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of identifying the multiple references present in the stock and locating the boxes in the warehouse.
Greater productivity and fewer stock-outs
The benefits of this solution are numerous. First and foremost, it will increase productivity thanks to better knowledge of the stock status of all items. It will also lead to increased storage space and greater stock reliability, as well as reduced aisle congestion. In financial terms, too, the benefits are obvious, thanks, in particular, to a reduction in dormant stocks and a reduction in financial losses due to production stoppages caused by shortages of certain raw materials.
Initially, the project is being implemented as a test in ID2Move’s storage area in Nivelles. The solution will then be deployed on a larger scale at Deltrian International’s 15,000m2 warehouses in Fleurus. Eventually, the idea is, of course, to bring this innovative solution to other companies, both in Wallonia and throughout Belgium.
The roles in the consortium of companies behind the project presented this Monday in Nivelles are well defined: Proximus will ensure 5G coverage by setting up a secure 5G private mobile environment, Proximus Ada will develop the calculation algorithms (Machine Learning) and Phoenix-Tech will supply the drone, while ID2Move will play the role of project coordinator, enabling the solution to be tested in an environment identical to Deltrian’s warehouse but scaled down and without interfering with its day-to-day activities.
Mathieu Michel, Secretary of State for Digitization, in charge of Administrative Simplification, Protection of Privacy and Building Regulation, deputy to the Prime Minister, said, “New technologies bring essential added value to our businesses. They generate wealth and jobs. They make our SMEs more efficient and profitable. The opportunities offered by 5G connectivity and AI are immense and must be at the very center of our political attention. It is a question of competitiveness, job creation and, therefore, support for our social model.”
Willy Borsus, Vice-President of Wallonia, Minister of Economy, Research and Innovation, Digital, Agriculture, Urban and Regional Planning, IFAPME and Competence Centers, commented, “Our Walloon companies know how to innovate, and we’re witnessing it again today with this project. As we know, many companies have accelerated the adoption and implementation of artificial intelligence or 5G in their processes to boost performance. We must therefore continue to deploy our projects and our digital strategy in this direction. This is essential to enable our companies to remain competitive, it’s crucial for the future of our region and its development.”
Anne-Sophie Lotgering, Enterprise Market Lead at Proximus, commented, “With the project unveiled today, Proximus and its partners are taking a major step forward in meeting companies’ needs for drone-based inventory control and management. By combining 5G with the artificial intelligence developed by Ada, we are the first to offer companies real-time information sharing, which is a crucial competitive advantage. On a personal note, I’m also delighted to see that more and more Walloon companies are jumping on board the 5G bandwagon. I believe that this technology will contribute to the region’s economic development.”
Emilien Watelet, ID2Move Director, said, “This call for projects came at an ideal time when Deltrian and ID2Move were frustrated with the solutions available on the market and thinking about an optimal formula for real-time stock management. Without Walloon public funding, this project would certainly have remained on the drawing board. It was then up to us to put together a complementary and competent team. And we succeeded in doing just that, with Proximus and Phoenix-Tech joining the consortium.”