Škoda has developed the Optikon artificial intelligence app to automatically calculate how pallets should be loaded in containers to maximise capacity. The OEM claims the software has saved it 151 container shipments and 80 tonnes of CO2 in the first six months of 2020.

Optikon is a portmanteau of optimisation and the Czech word for container, kontejner. The OEM has been using it at its Mladá Boleslav factory in the Czech Republic, in particular for loading containers that are shipped to Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, where Russian OEM Gaz assembles a number of Skoda models from CKDs.

Skoda Optikon

To do this, the application includes up to 400 pallet types in its calculations and takes into account the size, weight, value, available floor space and when the goods have to be shipped to figure out the best configuration. It also balances the weight distribution within the container and checks that the freight will be shipped in good time.

David Strnad, who took over as head of brand logistics at Škoda earlier this year following the retirement of Jiri Cee, pointed to the significance of using artificial intelligence to improve logistics utilisation and workflows.

“This AI app is a major development step on our way to digitalising logistics and our work processes,” he said. ”The Optikon project makes the work of the employees in the parts warehouse easier whilst also lowering our transport costs. Furthermore, it has allowed us to reduce CO2 emissions because we only dispatch full containers now.”

The app was a joint development between Skoda’s logistics and IT teams. Klaus Blüm, head of Škoda IT, added: “When determining how the respective items should be placed to maximise container space, the app includes up to 400 pallet types in its calculations. Furthermore, the program also balances the weight distribution within the container and checks that the freight will be shipped in good time.”

Škoda says AI will play a key role in its digitalisation strategy for the next five years.

The application may make its way to the rest of the VW Group, a Škoda spokesperson said, but it will be distributed within Škoda first. He explained: ”A dialogue on the expansion to all brands within the VW Group is likely to take place. Nevertheless, we already have positive feedback from other logistics departments within the group. For the time being, the application is now tailored for needs of Škoda Auto and its system environment.”

The carmaker has also been investing in a number of IT and automation systems in its plant and transport logistics both in its own plants and as part of the wider Volkswagen Group. It has automated parts ordering at its transmission plant in Vrlchlabí, where it has also rolled out new automated handling and transport robots