Industry 4.0: Wireless Communication, Positioning and RFID Combined to Create Intelligent Forklift


Forklifts that choose efficient routes, pallets that reliably arrive at the right place and in the right condition, products and machines that communicate among themselves – that is the vision behind Industry 4.0. Scientists at the Nuremberg branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS have moved closer to achieving that vision: By combining several positioning technologies and new communication technologies, they have created an intelligent forklift. HANNOVER MESSE (April 7 to 11, 2014) will see the forklift used to showcase technologies for Industry 4.0 at Booth D30/1 in the Wireless Pavilion in Hall 8.

© Fraunhofer IIS/Kurt Fuchs
© Fraunhofer IIS/Kurt Fuchs

Intelligent Combination of Technologies

René Duenkler, who is in charge of technology marketing at Fraunhofer IIS, explains: “To achieve what’s needed for Industry 4.0, it’s essential to combine new technologies in intelligent ways: Communication systems, RFID, positioning technologies and sensor networks all merge to create applications for use in industrial environments.”

And this is how the forklift works: The data needed to determine the vehicle’s exact current position is provided by BlackFIR and awiloc, both of which were developed by Fraunhofer IIS, as well as GPS and inertial navigation. This forms the basis for a range of applications. For instance, all available routes can be displayed on a tablet for the benefit of the driver, with the best option highlighted. RFID and telemetry are used to integrate the forklift with its environment. RFID technologies, which can be embedded even in metal or fiber-reinforced composites, ensure reliable identification. Wireless power transmission and sensor networks are also possibilities. Additionally, the condition of goods and products can be continuously monitored using intelligent objects and a supply chain integrity system based on the s-net technology developed by Fraunhofer IIS. “The forklift knows and communicates its position, which is a major step towards achieving production processes that are at once self-organizing and transparent,” says René Duenkler of Fraunhofer IIS.

The intelligent forklift will be used to demonstrate technologies for Industry 4.0 at HANNOVER MESSE from April 7 to 11, 2014. You can find it at Booth D30/1 in the Wireless Pavilion, Hall 8.