Intelligent cargo space: More efficient, faster, fully automatic: the cargo space management system

Jan 5, 2017

The cargo space management system on board the Vision Van sets new benchmarks in efficiency and quality in parcel delivery services.
It speeds up the processes in the vehicle and relieves the deliverer's workload substantially. Ultimately, more consignments are delivered
in less time. The development of the automatic cargo space management system was made possible by technology transfer within the Daimler group.

The development of the automatic cargo space management system was supported by technology transfer within the Daimler group. The development engineers from the adVANce team adopted know-how from in-house production facilities, for example from an efficiency project by the Technology Factory, which is currently in its test phase. They adapted this know-how to the conditions and requirements of a cargo space.

The cargo space management system consists of three essential elements: the racking systems matched precisely to the body's contours, the load carriers for one or more packages, which are employed to fill the racks, and the fully automatic rack feeder, which collects the load carriers and transports them to the package dispenser or the drones.

Flexibly usable racking systems

The cargo space management system increases the usable loading area in the Vision Van. The automatic rack feeder consists of an automatic lifting platform which can be moved in x, y and z direction. It requires a corridor of only 60 cm in order to collect and transport the load carriers.

The racking systems enable optimum use of the available space and volume in the cargo space. The systems essentially work in the same manner as racks for returning trays in a canteen. They take the form of rectangular racks with slide-in rails. They have 46 slide-in units which can be loaded with load carriers – open-topped baskets with three different base areas (S, M, L). The load carriers form the base of the respective rack compartment.

The base area of the smallest load carrier (S) measures 300 mm by 305 mm, the medium container (M) measures 410 mm by 305 mm and the largest container (L) 450 mm by 645 mm. As a result of the different slide-in units, no space is lost when packages of different heights require to be loaded. The maximum load bearing capacity of the load carriers is 31 kg. In order to keep the overall weight of the system as low as possible, the adVANce experts produced a lightweight system consisting of carbon-fibre racks and load carriers made of aluminium sheeting.

Prior to loading, IT-based back-end processes assign each package to the ideal load carrier type. Depending on size, weight and address, several packages may be placed in one and the same load carrier. In this way, the system ensures that optimum use is made of the available racking volume and that the rack feeder is able to feed the drones and the package dispenser for the driver as quickly and efficiently as possible. The system also takes into account whether the consignee has a landing station for drone delivery. The system assigns the consignment automatically to a drone load carrier if permitted by the size and weight of the package. The load carrier is then placed in the rack together with a battery.

On reaching the appropriate stop, the lifting arm collects the load carriers for the consignments and transfers them to the deliverer or the delivery drones. This requires a maximum of 30 seconds.

"We know from our customers that retrieving the packages at the stop may take several minutes today, because consignments have to be sought or resorted", says Thomas Moser, Vision Van Project Director at Mercedes-Benz Vans. "The automated cargo space in the Vision Van solves
this problem."

Substantially more consignments can also be delivered at the same time, because two delivery machines are in action, in addition to the human deliverer.