Patent Pending: IBM’s plan for vehicle platooning on the blockchain

This is Patent Pending. Supply chain-related patent applications are published every week and this is where we’ll talk about the ones that could have the biggest impact on the supply chain and the ones that challenge the norm. ​We want to give you an idea of where supply chains are heading and what the industry is thinking. Read the last issue here. This is the last issue of Patent Pending for 2019, we’ll see you next year.

A modular approach to storing more

Amazon is always looking to improve operations in its fulfillment process and a patent application published this week tackles a main issue: density.

Inventory takes up space and space costs money. Getting as many products into the smallest space possible is an important consideration.

The modular storage system envisioned by Amazon can be configured in a variety of ways, but consists of multiple conveyor belts that can assist with moving items across a warehouse.

  1. Robotic arms can be used to load storage containers onto and off of the module.
  2. Storage containers would be outfitted with machine-readable tags like RFID, QR or bar codes that could provide information on the container and its contents.
  3. An item movement management system would keep track of the items in the storage module.
  4. Items quickly transition from storage to the packing process. Some vehicle types might not be eligible to platoon and some companies might not have platoon sharing agreements, the patent says.

Read up:

Freight train (well … truck) on the blockchain

Vehicle platooning, depending on who you ask, is the future of fleet management or an over-hyped technology with no business case.

The idea is fairly straight forward: have trucks follow closely together on the highway so the trucks behind the leader use less fuel due to the reduced drag. Communication is important, and in a patent application IBM makes the case that blockchain is one option.

Trucks would use vehicle-to-vehicle…

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