InWeSt – intelligent swap body controller in transport logistics

An interdisciplinary research project for the optimisation of freight traffic.

Intelligent swap body control in transport logistics

The EU Commission for the Improvement of Climate Protection has set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, while increasing energy efficiency by 20% at the same time. In this context, the aim of the InWeSt project was the demonstrable reduction of traffic volume in transport logistics as a major contributor to emissions.


Everyone knows the large range in our department stores and everyone appreciates the colourful variety in the online shops. Almost nobody welcomes the enormous volume of traffic that is caused by the transport of these goods every day – it represents a real danger not only for everyone’s own schedule, but also for the health of people and the environment.
The InWeSt research project was launched in 2008 to optimise freight traffic while relieving the environment at the same time. The project partners made it their mission to increase efficiency in transport logistics with the help of modern IT technology, and to significantly reduce emissions. InWeSt stands for “intelligent swap body controller” – the starting point is therefore those colourful carriers that are transported on the backs of trucks and freight trains, and that practically never sit still. Many of them come from overseas and have already made much of their journey on water.


InWeSt was interdisciplinary and relied on the linking of several technologies – GPS (global positioning system) was used to identify the swap bodies and determine their locations. The software designed by Micromata and coordinated with the BIBA scientists then integrated this data into an efficient and better route calculation.

The main components of the system
Yellow Box: This box was attached to the swap body and had a standalone power supply. By activating the vibration sensor or time and tour-related reporting points, it briefly logged on to the system to retrieve data. Depending on the configuration, three interfaces could be occupied with information on the location, capacity and temperature, for example.

Middleware: The middleware was the link between the swap body and the scheduler. This software component formed the intelligent part of the system by capturing, evaluating, triggering, and passing information to other systems. In addition to connecting to a wide variety of networks such as logistics, weather and traffic information systems, the application also provided context information about each swap body, such as their name, location, battery level, owner, fill level and the next maintenance date. These could be retrieved user-specifically in different representations (order entry, “airlift view” or via Google Maps integration).


The InWest software system not only allowed for continuous documentation of the movement and the use of swap bodies, but it also enabled the tracking of individual containers and the associated orders. The result was an enormous increase in efficiency for transport logistics and the demonstrable reduction in CO2 emissions.

The research partners at a glance

    • Bremer Instituts für Produktion und Logistik (BIBA)
    • Deutschen Post AG
    • DHL Solutions GmbH
    • OHB Teledata GmbH
    • Micromata GmbH

Support from the federal government

The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) funded the project to maturity with an amount of EUR 2.4 million.

Jule Witte

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