Factsheet #Industry 4.0

Bosch and SAP connect forklifts and goods

Improved efficiency thanks to sensors and software

  • Faster goods transport thanks to data mining and the Bosch IoT Cloud
  • Overview of vehicles and goods thanks to intelligent software
  • Fewer accidents thanks to automatic speed control and collision warning
Katharina Hogh-Binder

Katharina Hogh-Binder >


Vienna/Stuttgart/Walldorf – Bosch’s new Zenoway solution offers a complete portfolio of tools for the management of forklift fleets. Zenoway uses smart sensors to monitor and control all a site’s logistics processes. It works by collecting, analyzing, and presenting all the relevant vehicle data from connected forklifts, which enables users to monitor goods transport, shorten vehicle routes, and avoid collisions. To ensure in-house logistics run smoothly, Zenoway continuously gathers data and sends it to the Bosch IoT Cloud to be processed. A shared interface with the SAP Vehicle Insights system makes managing even larger forklift fleets easy. This system owes its intelligence to five technological approaches:

1. Locating forklifts indoors and outdoors

In outdoor operating areas such as loading zones or storage areas, the system uses GPS to locate forklifts. Indoors, for instance in warehouses or covered logistics receiving areas, vehicles are located using cameras, laser, or radio. These tools record a vehicle’s precise location up to 25 times per second and with an accuracy of just a few centimeters. Basically, relevant data is collected in real time and compared continuously. If two forklifts get too close to one an-other, their drivers are warned to adjust their speed or bring their vehicle to a halt. If a forklift approaches a doorway, it opens automatically. The doors also close again as soon as the forklift has passed, which reduces the building’s heating and cooling costs.

2. Sensors for vehicles and goods in transport

Bosch shock sensors continuously report any vibrations a vehicle is exposed to. They are more sensitive than any driver and can detect all kinds of collisions. If a vehicle brushes against goods, for instance, or is involved in an accident, the system can tell the nature and location of the damage in real time. As a result, help can be called for quickly and automatically. Since the connectivity between the sensors and the location system is smart, any vibrations that are not a problem, for instance those caused by railroad ties, are ignored. In addition, a pressure sensor fitted to the forklift’s hydraulic system determines the weight on the fork. This shows whether the forklift is traveling empty or with a load, and whether it has correctly collected the goods.

3. Driver assistance system for forklifts

The forklift’s speed is controlled automatically. This helps the driver comply with speed restrictions and increases the safety of the route. If a vehicle is traveling within a pre-defined area, its speed reduces automatically to a preset value. Once the vehicle leaves this area, it automatically assumes its original speed. The system can store a number of route programs, ensuring that delicate goods are transported slowly and less fragile goods faster.

4. Data analysis for more efficient logistics

Operating data from the forklifts is collected continuously. This data on the vehicles’ location, environment, speed, direction of travel, and load status can provide information with which to improve how goods are transported. Fragile goods are transported with particular care, and wear and tear on vehicle parts is continuously monitored. Data can be presented in a number of ways. The system also uses a heat map to visualize traffic volumes, with a view to reducing potential hazards on busy routes. Details on transport numbers and durations are summarized in an easy-to-read table.

5. Tracking goods without scanners

Businesses see daily flows of inbound and outbound goods, as well as movements of goods within warehouses. Generally, to maintain a good overview of inventory, transported goods must be painstakingly scanned with every change of location. The Zenoway solution tracks this movement simply by locating the vehicles, eliminating the need to laboriously scan transport units. Moreover, each storage location is automatically detected as the forklift approaches it. The transport unit can automatically be tracked from the time the driver collects it to the time it is delivered to its destination. Forklift drivers can use a tablet in their cab to identify the goods by code at any time. Another benefit of this system is that it generates a clear overview of inventory levels, while constant stocktaking ensures nothing is lost.

From start-up idea to industrial solution

Zenoway was developed by Zeno Track, a start-up that was founded in 2008 and acquired by Bosch in 2015. It is based in Vienna, Austria, and has an office in the Stuttgart region. The company now has some 40 associates.

Further information is available in the new Bosch Media Service: here

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 395,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2020). The company generated sales of 71.5 billion euros in 2020. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT provider, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, Industry 4.0, and connected mobility. Bosch is pursuing a vision of mobility that is sustainable, safe, and exciting. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to facilitate connected living with products and solutions that either contain artificial intelligence (AI) or have been developed or manufactured with its help. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiary and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. With its more than 400 locations worldwide, the Bosch Group has been carbon neutral since the first quarter of 2020. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 129 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 73,000 associates in research and development, of which nearly 34,000 are software engineers.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861–1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant upfront investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-four percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The remaining shares are held by Robert Bosch GmbH and by a corporation owned by the Bosch family. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust.

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