Lyngsoe Systems, a major supplier of automated material handling equipment and related technology products, has recently developed the Intelligent Material Management System. This product was introduced in partnership with the Aarhus and Copenhagen public library systems in Denmark and has since been adopted by other libraries in Scandinavia and the UK. The IMMS is a business application that supplements a library's ILS and self-service and automated material handling equipment to achieve savings in personnel costs through increased efficiency and reduced inventory errors.
Overview of IMMS
The key business objective centers on managing a library's logistics for its collection use more efficiently than could be performed by the ILS alone. It also helps reduce errors that lead to misplaced items, which can be frustrating for library patrons and personnel. The automated distribution of inventory improves patron satisfaction with the library by ensuring that the shelves are stocked with the optimal quantity and mix of materials.
The IMMS operates in tandem with the organization's ILS. The ILS continues to manage most aspects of the library's collection, such as acquisitions, cataloging, and circulation. But rather than depending on the capabilities that might be built into the circulation module, the IMMS manages the flow of library materials for floating collections and routing materials within and between branches. By optimizing routing among branches, materials are delivered rapidly with lower overall logistical costs. It performs these tasks more efficiently through the detailed data it maintains regarding the space available in each shelf location, branch, or other storage facilities. IMMS harvests inventory data from the ILS in bulk during initial setup with ongoing synchronization as it operates. The initial implementation also involves registering each potential shelf location so that the system can fill them to optimal levels relative to content and shelf capacity. The performance of the IMMS in a library system can improve as it is used through the constant accumulation of collection data and use patterns.
IMMS works in conjunction with the library's self-service and automated material handling equipment. Larger library systems would ideally implement a high-speed centralized sorter. New material added to the collection and materials returned to branches would be processed through the central sorter, which would dispatch items to an optimized branch location based on the data and business logic programmed into the IMMS.
Libraries without centralized sorting can also benefit from IMMS. Optimized distribution can be accomplished with smaller, branch-level sorters or even manually. Libraries without sorters, for example, would use a self-service return that instructs the patron to place the item on specific return carts, which are then routed appropriately. Library personnel operate the IMMS via a web-based interface, used primarily for setting up the system and for generating reports. Most circulation tasks continue to operate through the staff interface of the ILS or through self-service loan and return kiosks. Library personnel would usually use the IMMS on a mobile device with a barcode scanner or RFID reader for picking requested items from the shelves, collection weeding, responding to relocation requests, or other tasks. Carrying out these tasks on a mobile device avoids the traditional printed pick lists.
Media Hotels and Permanent Storage Facilities
In addition to managing the routing of collection items among branches, IMMS is also able to manage materials in storage facilities. These facilities would use standard library shelving. Rather than following an arrangement, such as by topic or call numbers, IMMS manages the items based on optimal shelving capacity, tracking each item so that it can be retrieved as needed. Items in a storage location are organized according to a warehouse management technique called “chaotic storage,” where materials are placed within a bin or shelf unit without regard to call numbers or other conventional shelf ordering. The inventory management system, however, tracks the exact location of each item so that it can be efficiently retrieved when requested. The system can generate intelligent pick lists, ordered so that a staff member can retrieve items by following a straight path without having to continually go back and forth through the storage area.
Library systems with more collection materials than available shelf space in its branches, can also implement what Lyngsoe calls a “media hotel,” a designated area to receive and hold items when there is no room at other branches. Lower-use or specialized materials could be held in the media hotel until requested or until sufficient space is available in a branch in need of that type of item. A media hotel would follow the chaotic storage model and locational item placement and retrieval as used in a permanent storage facility.
Lyngsoe has developed a specification for each aspect of interoperability needed between the IMMS and the library's ILS. The IMMS is populated with detailed data regarding the library's collection inventory, its circulation policies, shelving locations available, and other related parameters. It does not collect or process any patron data. Patron data remains entirely within the ILS, which continues to perform patronfacing messaging and account features. This specification defines the scope and format for bulk data transfers needed for initialization as well as real-time web services used in the operation of the system.
The IMMS was initially implemented in the public library systems in Aarhus and Copenhagen in Denmark, beginning in 2013. As a result of the implementation of IMMS, the Aarhus library, with 19 branches, achieved a 15.7 percent savings in material handling costs and Copenhagen saved 40.9 percent across its 20 branches. The libraries also saw substantial decreases in patron queries related to collection items not in their expected location. A centralized sorting facility was implemented in the Copenhagen library system at the same time as the introduction of IMMS. Lyngsoe Systems concluded in their IMMS evaluation report that:
Intelligent Material Control is now implemented and in full operation. The measurements have confirmed that the estimated efficiency improvement has been met. In this sense, the project and the newly developed system Intelligent Material Management are considered successful. The present project has therefore developed a new logistics tool that can be implemented as a standard solution for other libraries who may be interested in it. Furthermore, there are opportunities for further development of the technology so that it is adapted to needs and possibilities as these are exposed.1
The Helsinki Public Library in Finland implemented IMMS in conjunction with its Sierra ILS to manage materials across its 37 libraries.3 IMMS was implemented in Helsinki in advance of the opening of the acclaimed Helsinki Central Library Oodi, with the goal of operating this facility without having to increase staffing for the system as a whole. In August 2019, Liverpool University in the UK implemented IMMS to work with their Sierra ILS. This implementation is the first outside Scandinavia and one of the first academic libraries.
Lyngsoe Systems in the United States
In the United States, Lyngsoe is especially known for its highperformance central sorting systems. Its equipment is used in the BooksOps facility that serves the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. The King County Library System in Washington likewise has a central sorting facility based on a Lyngsoe sorter. These two centralized sorting operations are the fastest in the world, each able to achieve peak capacity of about 15,000 items per hour.
In addition to its own direct sales in the United States, it partners with EnvisionWare to distribute its products.4
Lyngsoe Systems provides logistical hardware and other technology components for a variety of industries, including airports/ airlines, healthcare, postal services, manufacturing and supply chain, and customs and shipping, in addition to its family of library products. The company is based in Aars, Denmark with offices in Fredrick, MD and Bolton, Ontario, Canada.
For libraries, Lyngsoe offers a wide variety of products, including automated material handling equipment, self-service hardware and software, security gates, and room booking systems, in addition to the recently introduced intelligent material management system. Lyngsoe offers other specialized library products such as the Book-o-Mat for holds pickup and Holds-Mate for return of materials requested for holds. The company is majority owned by the CataCap private equity firm based in Copenhagen. Bjerregaard Thomsen serves as company CEO and Jørgen Bardenfleth chairs its Board of Directors. Lyngsoe Systems employs a workforce of about 200 globally.
- 1952: Lyngsoe Systems is founded as a division of Søren T. Lyngsø AS, based in Copenhagen to develop logistics products for the energy, marine, and environmental sectors.
- September 1994: Lyngsoe Systems division changes ownership through a management buyout.
- 1999: Lyngsoe Systems opens sales and support office in Frederick, MD in the United States.
- 2000: Lyngsoe Systems invests in Net-Mill International AS, a firm specializing in mobile internet technologies.
- 2001: Lyngsoe Systems opens an office in Toronto, Canada.
- March 2014: Private equity firm CataCap acquires majority share in Lyngsoe Systems.
- Lyngsoe Systems, “IMMS Final Report to the Fund for Welfare Technology,” 2014, https://www.lyngsoesystems.com/media /2996/ims-final-report-to-the-fund-for-welfare-technology -full-report-002.pdf.
- See Lyngsoe Systems, “Helsinki City Library Introduces the Lyngsoe Systems IMSS — The Machine Learning-based Intelligent Material Management System,” news release, May 28, 2019, https://www.lyngsoesystems.com/en/news/helsinki-city -library-introduces-the-lyngsoe-systems-imms-the-machine -learning-based-intelligent-material-management-system/. 4. “Automated Materials Handling in Partnership with Lyngsoe Systems,” EnvisionWare, accessed August 20, 2019, https://www.envisionware.com/automated-materials-handling-in -partnership-with-lyngsoe-systems/.