Logistics Startup of the Month: CARGOMETER

5 min read

Every month we select one logistics startup which represents a positive example of innovation in Logistics and Supply Chain and has the potential to alter the way the industry operates. This month, Transmetrics selected CARGOMETER, an innovative solution for 3D freight measurement, as the “Logistics Startup of the Month” for the remarkable developments of computer vision for logistics operations.

In order to learn more, we have talked with Bernhard Obermaier, the Co-CEO of CARGOMETER, about the startup’s journey and what is behind their “on-the-fly” freight measurement technology.

First of all, congratulations on becoming the Logistics Startup of the Month! Can you please briefly introduce our readers to CARGOMETER?

CARGOMETER is the market-leading company in “on-the-fly” measurement, weighing and identification of goods on the moving forklift. In fact, we have invented and patented the concept of this disruptive technology, which allows us to measure the freight during the process of unloading or loading of the truck directly at the loading gate. Additionally, we are able to provide a digital twin of the freight as the base for further process optimization.

The CARGOMETER Principle – Freight Dimensioning on a moving forklift

Which industry problem are you trying to tackle with your solution? What kind of other solutions currently exist to address the same problem? What is the unique aspect of CARGOMETER that makes it stand out among these solutions?

Empirical studies have shown that more than 15 % of all pallets transported in less-than-truckload logistics are billed at rates that are too low. As a result, European cargo carriers are missing out on EUR 2.4 billion of revenue each year. The basic problem is that cargo carriers rarely measure the dimensions and weight of their freight because of the artificial bottlenecks that current measuring systems create in transshipment terminals. As a consequence, the entire sector relies on guesswork when billing its most valuable resource – cargo space.

As CARGOMETER does not need any additional space or time for the measurement, we have a clear logistical advantage over the stationary measurements that are currently common practice. Our technology is enabling the companies for logistics 4.0.

Can you please explain in more detail the concept of “on-the-fly” freight dimensioning? How do you deal with irregular sized shipments?

CARGOMETER’s powerful software processes individual low-resolution images collected by an inexpensive 3D image sensor, creating a high-resolution 3D model for every measurement. The beauty of this approach is that we use sophisticated algorithms instead of expensive hardware. The algorithms are capable of dealing with any form of goods – we build our high-resolution 3D model – and then adjusting the smallest fitting box around. The measurement results are the length, height, and width – information which is then available for any further processing or optimization steps.

How do you ensure the measurement accuracy for weight, dimensions and the volume of items? What kind of technologies are you using?

We have intensively investigated the available mathematical models of creating the above mentioned 3D model. The tricky task is to combine the view of the left with the right 3D image sensor so that you ultimately end up with the correct 3D model as the basis for determining the smallest fitting box. We train this combination with an initial calibration. Starting from this basis, we use deep learning algorithms for this correct combination in each and every measurement. This still allows us to provide correct measurements even when environmental changes such as temperature tilt the sensors slightly. If the deviation of the variables of the deep learning algorithms differs beyond a certain threshold, a mechanical collision must have happened and we inform the responsible person, who then checks the sensors.

This is how we guarantee that measurements provided by the CARGOMETER system are reliable and correct.

CARGOMETER Measurement Device. Picture Credit: CARGOMETER

Could you please share any recent client’s success stories? How did CARGOMETER help them in particular? What does it take for a logistics company to start using your services?

Our most recent success story was written with Gebrüder Weiss. Gebrüder Weiss identified the benefits of CARGOMETER solution at a very early stage. They have trusted in us and bought the first pilot project – equipping 15 Gates with the CARGOMETER solution. Having measured hundreds of thousands of goods, Gebrüder Weiss opted for a company-wide rollout of our technology. We already rolled out an additional two sites of the company-wide network in 2019.

In your opinion, in addition to 3D freight dimensioning, what are the other technological trends that can improve the logistics operations in the next 3 years?

Based on our concept of 3D freight dimensioning, we anticipate that such data will not only be used for correct invoicing but also to further optimize the entire value chain. This may be through using dynamic routing algorithms or forecasting algorithmsБ such as that currently proposed by Transmetrics.

What was the biggest learning point for you throughout the development of CARGOMETER? If you had a chance to do it all over again, is there something you would do differently?

Matters always take longer than expected. Especially since CARGOMETER has developed a completely new approach in freight-measurement, building trust in the technology as well as in the company was a very big challenge. The question if we would have done differently, is a very nice one. Although I believe we did a lot of good things, we probably should have acted with more confidence and approached the market somewhat sooner. This is because you only learn how to improve your product once you fully understand the problems of your client.

Forklift operating with CARGOMETER measurement devices. Picture Credit: CARGOMETER

What major developments should we expect from CARGOMETER in 2019-2020?

Our objectives for the next two years are to establish our brand as a recognized and trusted partner for the “on-the-fly” measurement of goods. This will be achieved by committing fully to our clients’ problems and projects. We would like to further explore and expand collaborative opportunities with innovative companies to further explore the benefit of correctly measured and modeled freight. The entire logistics sector will be transformed by the available and upcoming technologies –and we want to be the leading 3D freight dimensioning company.