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The Simple Pallet Turns Smart using the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit and ADLINK Edge™ Smart Pallet

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Key Takeaways

  • Learn how ADLINK is using the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit and Intel® architecture to empower machine vision.
  • Discover how developing and deploying smart pallets is helping automate and optimize labor-intensive manual tasks that cause delays and losses.
  • Leverage ADLINK and Intel technologies to drive advancements in industrial automation and manufacturing.

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ADLINK is driving data-to-decision applications across industries with edge-based machine vision AI and IoT solutions. By bringing AI to the edge with solutions such as the ADLINK Edge™ Smart Pallet, we’re helping automate and optimize labor-intensive manual tasks that cost manufacturers, supply chains and other businesses massive delays and losses.

The Wooden Bed That Moved the World

Often referred to as ‘the single most important object in the global economy’, the pallet has proven to be a simple, yet elegant, solution for moving and storing raw materials and products worldwide. As of 2020, the global wood pallet market is valued at over USD 10 billion and is expected to reach more than USD 15 billion by the end of 2026.i

The Pallet Gets a Smart Upgrade

Most pallets, currently in use, have a simple design that allows packages to be stacked up, on top of each other for easy transport to shipping containers and distribution centers using a forklift. With the introduction of machine vision AI technologies, the simple pallet solution is getting smarter.

ADLINK is helping several customers transform their palletization operations by replacing manual barcode scanning. The goal is to optimize the warehouse packing line and automate the quality checking process to improve accuracy and efficiency without causing costly disruption to existing operations.

ADLINK’s solution generates value from vision data and provides intelligent insights, which can be acted upon instantly to make a truly automated warehouse operation that runs smoothly, efficiently and effectively.

A Smart Solution for Complex Problems

Everyone wants their products delivered to them fast. This becomes challenging when warehouses rely on manual scanning to determine if the right package is on the right pallet. Hand-held scanners require warehouse workers to have a direct line of sight with the barcode on the package. This often means that workers have to bend, kneel, climb or turn the packages around to get a valid scan. If the packages are not scanned correctly, they end up on the wrong pallets, get shipped to the wrong destination or go missing from the system, resulting in a loss due to forced order replacements.

While pallet automation, using palletizers, has been around for some time, it requires drastic changes to existing warehouse systems. It involves buying, installing, training, and maintaining very complex and expensive machinery. But with ADLINK’s solution, you can build upon what you have to get accelerated results without having to make drastic changes to your existing infrastructure.

Making Pallets Talk

ADLINK Edge™ Smart Pallet uses AI-enabled machine vision to provide fully-automated visibility on packages and pallets, helping ensure that they are in the right place at the right time. Smart Pallet replaces traditional barcode hand-scanning using an ADLINK NEON Smart Camera, fixed above the pallet, to identify each box and its barcode as it is palletized.

Using a combination of smart cameras and deep learning edge IoT software, ADLINK’s solution is enabling pallets to ‘talk’ to other pallets in the warehouse and warehouse employees in real-time. This instant communication is helping to improve overall operational efficiency and solve common warehousing problems such as missing inventory and incorrect shipments that lead to lost revenue.

At the back-end, ADLINK’s Smart Pallet solution can also perform real-time communication with the warehouse management system(s), ERP, PLCs, sensors and more. The solution uses smart cameras with built-in capabilities to collect data, compute, and transmit information at the edge. This eliminates the need to call-back to any cloud or database, enabling instant inventory reporting.

Real-world Use Case: Minimizing Errors Through Automated Quality Assessment 

Evans Distribution Systems is a provider of third-party logistics and supply chain solutions. They have deployed the ADLINK Edge™ Smart Pallet solution to optimize their warehouse packing line using two GigE cameras, an Edge AI Gateway computer and ADLINK Edge™ software. The solution records and classifies package contents as they move through the line, serving as an automated quality assessment system, and uses rule-based analytics to recognize inconsistencies or deviance from the packing list.

First, one of the cameras looks inside the box for accuracy of contents while the other reads a barcode containing the packing list. As the package moves through the quality check-point, the system records two images and identifies the objects inside using a classification model. The model training system teaches the computer how to identify objects in hundreds of different positions, lighting scenes, and other variances. The model training is critical, as the accuracy and performance of the system are tied directly to it. 

After the two images are taken, the pixels are converted into data and fed through a software system that is connected to Evans’ warehouse management system (WMS). Next, the content data is checked against the packing list, and—if the contents are inconsistent—the packing list is marked to reflect a packing error that can then be swiftly corrected.

Integration with the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ Toolkit

The Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit enables streamlined high-performance deep learning deployment with a write-once, deploy-anywhere approach on systems with 9th or 10th Gen Intel® Core™ processors, Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, Intel® Movidius™ Myriad™ X VPU and Intel® Stratix® 10 GX FPGA.  

The ADLINK Edge™ software integrates the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit Inference Engine and allows users to train and test machine learning models, deploy them to edge devices and to continuously learn and improve the process. It provides an end-to-end integrated system to connect new and existing equipment, capture multiple image data streams, and apply high-performance processing power for machine learning and inferencing at the edge.

This integration also means that a solution can be scaled up to benefit from more powerful computing on Intel®-based hardware to match the required deployment scenarios.  For instance, a developer can start with ADLINK’s Vizi-AI machine vision devkit to design a solution and then upgrade to an ADLINK NEON smart camera or an industrial deep learning platform with a production-ready deployment—all using the same ADLINK Edge™ software.

Seeing Endless Possibilities with Machine Vision

Machine vision is taking the business world by storm with its capability to capture and analyze digital images and videos. It is one of the biggest, fastest-growing trends across all industry verticals. The global machine vision market is anticipated to expand from USD 9.6 billion in 2020 to USD 13.0 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 6.1%.ii

In partnership with Intel, we see endless possibilities for real-world applications of machine vision. Our machine vision AI solutions are being used by food and beverage manufacturers, oil and gas operators, robotic systems creators, and other emerging AI industries to increase productivity, minimize defects, reduce spoilage and product replacement costs, create safer work environments, build autonomous moving machines and increase pallet profitability.

The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) foresees increased investment in automated warehousing systems, such as the ADLINK Edge™ Smart Pallet, that benefit the bottom line and increase productivity. The ADLINK view is that measurable ROI and success from early adopters is influencing companies who hesitated to invest previously but now see the attraction of the capital investment required.

At ADLINK, we are committed to helping our clients solve everyday business challenges quickly and inexpensively with the power of machine vision to optimize warehouse packing lines with innovation—delivering improved accuracy, efficiency and quality.


i October 2020, “Wood Pallet Market 2020 : Global Industry Analysis by Top Countries Data with Size, Share, Segments, Drivers and Growth Insights to 2026”, MarketWatch.

ii June 2020, “Machine Vision Market with COVID-19 impact Analysis by Deployment (General & Robotic cell), Component (Hardware and Software), Product (PC-based and Smart camera-based), Application, End-user Industry & Region - Forecast to 2025”, Markets and Markets.,in%20manufacturing%20more%20than%20ever.




About the Author
Mary is the Community Manager for this site. She likes to bike, and do college and career coaching for high school students in her spare time.