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Predicting the future at the #BCX18 IoT hackathon

News   •   Feb 27, 2018 17:00 GMT

Bosch Hackathon: Panalpina’s teams used machine learning to predict estimated time of arrival of trucks and future events while in transit. (Photo from Bosch / Offenblende)

The hashtags #BCX18 and #BCW18 have been pretty hot the last few days. They symbolized the Bosch Connected Experience hackathon and its parent event – Bosch Connected World, which took place in Berlin and came to an end on Friday.

Bosch Connected Experience is an annual Internet of Things (IoT) hackathon for backend and frontend developers, product owners, product managers, UX experts, and innovators from Bosch customers, partners, and start-up companies. 700+ people participated and Panalpina is proud to have joined the Logistics & Supply Chain 4.0 hack challenges with an international team of eight developers and two hack coaches coming from Basel, Lisbon and Luxembourg.

Machine learning to predict the future

Panalpina studied the challenges and the tools (Intellic, Iotify, etc.) required to work with Bosch’s systems and data, and explored possible ideas. For example: is there a publicly accessible API that allows to pull weather and/or traffic data for estimating truck delays?

In the first challenge, the “Panalpina Blues” team worked on “Getting Close” aiming to improve the prediction of the estimated time of arrival (ETA) for trucks. The team applied a machine learning algorithm to data gathered from tachographs, weather conditions and mapping data. The result is a web interface where the user can estimate the ETA based only on origin, destination and departure time.

The “Panalpina Blues” team pitching their idea. (Photo from Panalpina)

For the second challenge the “Panalpina2” team worked on “Treasure Hunt” to predict future events and avoid issues such as damaged shipments. This was done by analyzing cargo for temperature, humidity and acceleration changes based on sensor data combined with data from the vehicle systems such as tire pressure loss and location. Combining the data via machine learning, the team was able to inform the operator and notify the truck driver of the issue. 

The “Panalpina2” team on stage. (Photo from Panalpina)

Although Panalpina didn’t take the main prize, the teams learned a lot. “The challenge with hackathons is that the technology the organizers want us to work with might not be the technology we are familiar with. Therefore we have to be open-minded and ready to learn about whatever they might throw at us,” said Gianluca Lupo, corporate IT systems development manager, who was one of the Panalpina team coaches.

“Since hackathons are about learning by doing, you have to be ready to embrace failure. In a hackathon, things will go wrong, meaning that you will have to rework and start again. You have to be agile and ready to change your mind, ideas and plans. But this ‘danger’ makes it exciting too and we want to go to hackathons and learn as much as we can,” added Gianluca.

Hackathons are becoming increasingly important

In the last couple of years Panalpina’s customers have begun requesting that companies tendering for contracts not only undertake the usual procurement steps but that they also participate in hackathons run by them.

They are keen to see the incumbent’s technological ability and what companies like third-party logistics providers can do with their preferred tools. As a technologically-driven forwarder, Panalpina has taken a hands-on approach to this.

“We cannot become elite programmers in a new language or data scientists in one week, but we are approaching unfamiliar technologies with an open mind and we are keen to learn. We are capable of competing and open to whatever technology the customer prefers,” concluded Gianluca.

For #BCX18, Panalpina even provided anonymized data from its systems, for example, records of truck deliveries from gateways to destinations throughout Europe. This dataset included projected and actual journey milestones such as those demonstrated by Panalpina CEO Stefan Karlen in his presentation on IoT and future supply chains, where he spoke of how products will plan their own journey in the future.

See the best of Bosch Connected Experience 2018.

Photo gallery

Panalpina’s international team in action. (Photo from Bosch / Offenblende)

The two teams together. (Photo from Bosch / Offenblende)

Panalpina CEO Stefan Karlen paid a visit to the teams. (Photo from Panalpina)