Intel aims to streamline supply chain logistics with new DWS lidar software

October 14, 2020 By iwano@_84 Off

Intel Corp. today introduced DWS, a new software product that promises streamline the supply chain operations of companies such as retailers by automating the labor-intensive chore of measuring packages’ dimensions and volume.

Intel, best known for its chips, also has a presence in a few other markets. Among others, the company sells a line of enterprise-grade depth cameras under the RealSense brand that can be used for tasks such as equipping industrial robotics with computer vision capabilities. The new DWS software announced today works with the RealSense L515 (pictured), a lidar depth camera introduced last December that Intel touts as the world’s smallest high-resolution lidar camera.

Measuring packages is an important part of running a modern supply chain. Delivery companies need to accurately log items’ size and volume to determine how best to allocate cargo capacity in their trucks. An e-commerce company, meanwhile, can use volume measurements of merchandise in its warehouses as a metric for evaluating inventory availability. These types of measurements also play a role in billing.

The challenge is that packages’ dimensions and volume typically have to be logged manually, which creates inefficiencies for large logistics firms processing millions of items per year. Enter Intel’s DWS software. A warehouse operator or delivery company can pair DWS with a number of RealSense L515 lidar cameras, deploy the cameras in its facilities and automate the measurement process.

Intel says DWS takes less than two seconds to glean a package’s dimensions and volume. It’s accurate to the millimeter, according to the chipmaker, and can measure objects ranging from small boxes measuring a few inches across to full-sized pallets. The RealSense L515 cameras DWS uses to capture this data produce images by gathering up to 23 million so-called depth points per second within their field view.

Besides speeding up measurements, Intel says the technology also reduces data inaccuracies by taking the risk of human error out of the picture. The result, it says, is that logistics companies can speed up cargo processing and reduce operating costs.

“DWS allows companies to enhance billing accuracy and increase efficiency in warehouse management through fast and accurate to-the-millimeter measurements,” said Sagi Ben Moshe, the corporate vice president and general manager of the RealSense unit. 

DWS theoretically could also be used in supply chain automation. When Intel originally debuted the L515 last year, it said that the camera can be attached to robots thanks to its small size and flat form factor. That means savvy enterprise customers could potentially install DWS and L515 cameras on warehouse shelf-scanning robots to make their package measurement workflow completely automated.

RealSense cameras are one part of Intel’s broader strategy for the “internet of things” market. Warehouse robotics, industrial automation and the other use cases RealSense cameras enable all ultimately drive demand for chips that can process data from those cameras. Software products such as DWS that make it easier for traditional enterprises to implement advanced internet of things use cases further expand the market. 

Image: Intel

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