ŠKODA AUTO fills containers with AI and saves time and costs

Thanks to the OPTIKON system developed together with Blindspot, the ŠKODA AUTO Logistics Centre can dispatch containers even more efficiently, saving costs and the environment. The investment in the solution, which uses artificial intelligence, has already paid off for the carmaker in just six months of use.

ŠKODA AUTO has a logistics centre that sends parts for the assembly of cars in foreign plants. Prior to the introduction of OPTIKON, an application for maximising container loading, the loading staff put together pallet combinations. Based only on their experience.

This system had a number of limitations. Workers first loaded the pallets that were most suitable for loading. And the less combinable pallets then ended up in the less busy containers.

ŠKODA AUTO realised that this method was highly uneconomical. And looked for a way to get closer to the optimal/maximum container utilisation.

With the help of artificial intelligence…

So in 2018 they approached Blindspot, part of the Adastra Group, which delivers AI-based solutions. At the beginning of 2019, Blindspot implemented (in cooperation with ŠKODA AUTO’s IT department) a Proof of Concept solution. After intensive testing, the well-known carmaker then decided to use the solution in full operation.

ŠKODA AUTO’s internal IT department managed to get the entire solution into live operation later that year.  

OPTIKON fills the container efficiently and economically

How does it work? Imagine you have a shopping list. Before you start putting everything in your cart, you need to think about where you will find the items and how you will put them in your cart. Heavy items will go at the bottom, fragile eggs will go at the very top.

The OPTIKON system thinks the same way. It can evaluate 10^40 combinations of a total of two thousand pallet types in just a few seconds. The system takes into account the dimensions and weight of the pallets, the material on the pallets, when the pallet is to be loaded and whether the weight is correctly distributed in the container.

OPTIKON uses the Microsoft Azure Cloud Ecosystem and the actual solution to the combinatorial task is performed by a platform developed directly by Blindspot.

In addition to increasing container utilisation, OPTIKON has resulted in financial savings of €840,000. An investment that has already paid for itself after half a year of use. Training a new employee is much easier and more efficient. Plus the application detects system errors in packaging.

“In the first year of its deployment, OPTIKON saved a total of 300 containers that we did not have to ship. That represents 7 fully loaded trainsets and 160 tonnes of CO2 that didn’t make it into the air.”

Jakub Novák, Logistics System Support Specialist, ŠKODA AUTO

What are the next plans to optimise loading? The application, which now works in real time, will add a component that allows loading to be planned a week in advance. ŠKODA AUTO will also offer the app to other Group brands so that they too can benefit from the advantages of artificial intelligence.