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ZIM funding for the self-learning warehouse management software PROLAG®World

The intelligent WMS PROLAG®World can autonomously develop and modify unique putaway strategies.
The intelligent WMS PROLAG®World can autonomously develop and modify unique putaway strategies.

CIM GmbH and the Technical University of Munich are currently working on a joint research project titled ‘SeSoGEN – Entwicklung einer selbstlernenden Software zur Generierung intelligenter Einlagerungsstrategien auf Basis neuronaler Netze’ (SeSoGEN - Development of self-learning software for generating intelligent putaway strategies using neural networks). The goal of the project is to develop a warehouse management system capable of autonomously optimising warehouse processes using artificial intelligence.

CIM and the university are working together to create a self-learning warehouse software program which generates its own intelligent putaway strategies by means of neural networking. This new approach to process optimisation means that putaway and retrieval processes are logically combined. "As is stands, putaway strategies are defined manually in the warehouse based on specific article parameters such as height, width, shelf life, etc. Consequently, articles are sometimes assigned to a suboptimal storage location. This in turn can lead to inefficient use of warehousing capacity and the underlying processes", explains Daniel Wöhr from CIM's press and marketing department.

The two research partners have therefore decided to take a new approach to warehouse process optimisation: Using putaway and retrieval data, the warehouse management system learns how to optimise putaway processes, which has a knock-on effect on retrieval processes. The software can independently develop and modify entirely new strategies, for example to show employees the shortest route through the warehouse and to guarantee optimal warehouse utilisation. “We’re very excited to be working on this new project with our research partner of many years - we’re expecting the planned solution to deliver great potential for optimisation, not only for putaway and retrieval processes”, says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Johannes Fottner of the Institute for Materials Handling, Material Flow, Logistics at the TU Munich. The funding experts at ZIM, Germany’s Central Innovation Programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), were of the same opinion.

ZIM is one of the most popular funding programmes for R&D projects in Germany. The programme is open to all sectors and fields of technology. Its goal is to foster the innovative capacity and competitive ability of German SMEs. In 2008, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWI) advertised the ZIM programme for the first time. According to BMWI, a total of 40,500 projects were approved and grants amounting to 5.5 thousand million euros were paid out to companies in the period from 2008 to mid-2018 (data as applicable on 31/12/2019). Funding is available for individual company projects, cooperation projects with research institutions or other corporations, and network-based cooperation projects.