The Innovation Laboratory’s talent workshop gives students the opportunity to implement some very diverse projects. The result of the first project of this kind is a supplier-neutral pick-up station with a real lifestyle look.

Today, according to digital association BITKOM, every fifth German citizen orders things online several times a week. People who cannot be there to receive their parcels at home are dependent on automated pick-up/drop off stations or shops working for the parcel service providers and, since there are several courier services on the market, often have to go to several places to pick up their purchases. Patrick Zimmerman, a masters student in logistics at TU Dortmund University, and his fellow students, had been annoyed about this for a long time: two years ago, at a festival for young ZEIT ONLINE visionaries, they presented their idea of a supplier-neutral pick-up station which could be set up in cafés or similar public places. The talent workshop gave them the opportunity to build a prototype. The station is designed as a shelf equipped with individually removable boxes of different sizes. The boxes are secured by a special locking mechanism. A conventional metal bolt and a motor are connected by a coupling piece which the students developed specially for this purpose. This comes from a 3D printer. The recipient of a parcel registers online and receives a message with a barcode on their mobile phone as soon as the parcel arrives. This is held up to a scanner on the shelf and the storage box is unlocked. In addition to the technology and processes, the young researchers also worked on the design: the entire pick-up station is made of MDF board. The team worked on the prototype for about half a year. It is fully functional and ready for use. The students are currently looking for a location for their first shelf. There have already been several enquiries from potential investors, too.

Talents in the workshop: Patrick Zimmerman (right) and Yannick Bungers demonstrating their prototype pick-up station.