Optimizing Process Chains using GIS

Use of GIS to Optimize the Process Chains in Agricultural and Processing Industry

In the German Federal State of Rhineland Westfalia it is a well-known picture: Tractors and trucks, which transport sugar beets from the fields to the sugar factories during the so-called „campaigns“ in the time between September and December.

The amount of beets to be transported is very large and the transport distances not always short. The cost for fuel is an important factor, the time window for the transport is small, and the storage area in the factory is very limited. It can easily be imagined that for the just-in-time delivery of the beets to the sugar factories complex logistics must be in place which also must react flexibly to changing weather conditions.

The objective of the publicly funded project field2factory was to support optimally the planning, documentation, controlling and analysis of the just-in-time delivery processes of the sugar beets using a GIS-based solution. By improved planning, the length of the itineraries and empty trips are minimized. In the same time, the capacities of the factories are more evenly used and of course the environment is polluted less due to reduced fuel consumption. For the operators, the complete process chain is more economical.

The project was funded by European Regional Development Fund. VertiGIS contributed the GIS components and integrated these into the logistics chains: We established the geo data server (based on Esri’s ArcGIS for Server) for central data storage of all master and dynamic data of the logistics process including spatial data such as crop and beet storage areas. We also developed the interfaces between the SAP system of the logistics company and the GIS to enable synchronization of master data. Furthermore, we developed the interfaces between the mobile units used within trucks and loading devices. The mobile units are based on Esri’s ArcPad technology, UMTS and GPS. We also implemented a web viewer so that all stake holders can check the current status of the campaign data in near-real time and using their respective role. By using a user role framework, each user may access only his data and his view on the data. The following screenshot shows the view of a farmer on this crop areas and further data associated to this farmer:

The system has been used in its first version successfully in the harvest campaign 2011/2012.

field2factory is a modular system and can be used also in other use cases for optimizing the transport logistics.

field2factory won the second price at the GIS Best Practice Award 2012 of the DVW (German Association for Geodesy, Geoinformation and Landmanagement, see also: http://www.dvw.de/aktuelles/15043/dvw-verleiht-den-gis-best-practice-award-2012-ewe-netz-gmbh)