Averitable kaleidoscope of high-tech ideas was showcased at the Hanover Fair 2010. These included CogniLog, a logistics research project that was demonstrated at the stand of Carl von Ossietzky University’s Computer Science Institute. As the name indicates, it helps logistics equipment like forklifts and conveyor belts, besides others, to ‘think’ during loading and unloading.
CogniLog stands for ‘cognitive information-technology-supported logistics’ and is used in complex processes, for example, unloading containers, transshipping or packaging. Significant planning work is currently required to manage these procedures. But CogniLog takes a page from nature to organise and automate the various processes. It imparts an intrinsic ‘intelligence’ to forklifts and flexibly combined conveyor belts.
Similar to what nerve cells in the brain do, the CogniLog system hooks up these machines through wireless communications into a type of intelligent network. Barcodes and wireless chips are not necessary, as the information attaches itself like a shadow to the goods, and every movement is registered.
All the logistics ‘nerve cells’ located around the goods transshipment and in-house materials handling equipment are outfitted with their own sensors, allowing them to record the status data of the respective transshipment and order-picking processes. This means that the logistics process components transporting the goods determine the status of the goods, instead of the transported goods themselves.
CogniLog is designed to save money and make elaborate coordination processes with customers and suppliers superfluous.
Scanning probe microscopes are known for their high resolution and have become indispensable for many developments in the field of nanotechnology. However, till now, they have had one serious drawback – they have been very slow in terms of generating images. They have not been able to display objects or processes that undergo very minimal changes under the microscope. Physicists from Saarland University have introduced a technology that can make scanning probe microscopes a thousand times faster.
Scanning probe microscopes work rather like a record player. A needle reads the structure of the surface and then translates this into the relevant form. However, the micro- scope does not actually touch the object under examination. In addition, the needle it uses is tiny and made of silicon. Even though the microscope’s needles are very small, they soon reach their phasical limits. That is why the researchers have now developed a component that is a thousand times smaller than conventional needles. Known as the nanocantilever, this innovation is able to scan surfaces much more quickly and with greater precision. With enormous sensitivity, it can record at least 1 000 images a second. This represents a far higher frame rate than that of a television, for example. In addition, the detector that measures the movement of the nanocantilever is fitted above it at a distance smaller than the length of a light wave – this is around 500 times narrower than a hair. As a result, samples can be scanned quickly and precisely.
Using Solar Power to Locate Containers
How can one keep an eye on the precise location of containers, truck trailers and swap bodies? Easy – with the global positioning system (GPS). But how can one ensure these units have a reliable supply of energy? Solarc Innovative Solarprodukte, a company from Berlin, Germany, provided the solution to this particular problem in the shape of the Mecomo GPS solar unit.
The unit was specially developed for the challenges posed when locating swap bodies and containers. The positioning system is powered by solar energy. The GPS unit features a high-capacity battery and, with one location-finding operation a day, can last three years without an external power supply. The intelligent electronics in the powerful solar panel charge the battery of the GPS module with consistent reliability, whether in the middle of a Swedish winter or at the height of an Italian summer. The casing and the panel are watertight and have been subjected to hail testing.
Electronics from Inkjet Printers
Inkjet printers can be used for far more than just printing out favourite family photos, as was demonstrated by the Georg Simon Ohm University of Applied Sciences, of Nuremberg, which showcased a printing process for electronic circuits at Hanover Fair 2010.
This new form of electronic circuit production is very simple. Firstly, a silver ink containing nanoparticles is applied to a substrate using an inkjet printer. Secondly, the resultant product is subjected to heat treatment, which then enables it to conduct electricity. Circuits produced using this method can be applied to polymers, ceramics or even paper. What is more, inkjet printers can be used to bed resistors into circuits in the form of printed carbon nanotubes.