BASF invests in smart supply chain start-up Ahrma

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German chemical giant BASF SE has made a €5m investment in the shares of technology company Ahrma Holding BV to explore new, data-driven business opportunities.

At the K Show in Düsseldorf in 2016, The Dutch start-up launched its “revolutionary pallet” which combines innovative materials with the Internet of Things, using intelligent and well-managed pool and rental services.

As part of the partnership, Ahrma offers a complete, rentable supply chain solution consisting of a pallet coated with BASF’s polyurethane (PU) spray system Elastocoat C and equipped with an active wireless transponder.

Using the transponder that is integrated in the pallets and the software from Ahrma, Supply Chain Big Data (SCBD system), the company is able to record not just the position and movement of the pallets, but also their ambient temperature and load state and any possible impact or dropping of the pallets.

Ahrma also offers its transponder as a stand-alone technology for retro-fitting existing assets or entirely new application areas.

BASF said on 6 Dec that the strategic partnership was part of its “digital transformation journey” which it started in 2015.

The move, said the Ludwigshafen-based chemicals supplier, would benefit BASF customers as the company will offer a “more transparent, reliabale and efficient supply chain ecosystem” through real-time data.

“There is great interest in the smart use of logistics data as companies in all industries look for transparent, reliable information in real-time to optimise their supply chain,” said Raimar Jahn, president of BASF’s Performance Materials division.

The two companies started their collaboration on the smart pallets in June 2016. 

According to BASF, first pilot applications of Ahrma’s smart pallet customers have proven the advantages of the system to its customers.

“The technology provided users complete insights on the position and movement of shipped goods, temperature fluctuations, load state and any possible impact or dropping. Such transparency was then used to improve processes, reduce waste and safe costs,” BASF said.

In the future, the two partners intend to further develop the technology by expanding its use in internal cases and ‘enriching’ the technology.

“We believe that there is great potential far beyond the chemical industry for an offering like this,” said Jahn.

According to BASF, the digital economy is forecasted to account for 25% of the global economy by 2025 with an estimated $100 trillion of value generated over the next decade.

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