Transport robots for the flow of materials 4.0
In its article “Transport robots for the flow of materials 4.0” in the VDMA News of July, the VDMA (Verband deutscher Maschinenbauer – Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) reported on the use of our autonomously navigating proANT-vehicles in industrial contexts. InSystems has been part of the VDMA since 2006.
Original article (VDMA News of July 2017)
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) provide highly effective means of transporting materials within production lines, especially when compared to regular, track-bound transport technology.
Autonomously navigating transport robots calculate their ideal path within a production or other industrial plant themselves. They are not bound to set routes and their management system does not dictate which way to take. These robots use a laser scanner for orientation purposes, meaning that they do not require markings, reflectors or guided tracks in their environment. This flexibility allows for enhancement of the flow of materials’ effectivity and minimisation of non-profitable actions.
InSystems Automation GmbH in Berlin Adlershof develops these kinds of robots. They are able to move loads weighing anything from 30 to 1000kg. “Our vehicles work together with staff without any need for the installation of security measures such as fences or separated pathways.” explains Susanne Dannat, responsible head of marketing and machine security. If the vehicle detects an obstacle in its security field, it drives slower to navigate around the obstacle or comes to a halt. The robots’ communication takes place via encrypted WLAN. The signals they send are used to broadcast status information, avoid interference of another’s path and more.
Always on the ideal route
The robots receive simple transport orders from their management system, such as “Pick up at point A, take to point B”, and then calculate their ideal route to those points. While calculating, the robots not only take the shortest way to their goal into account, but also consider other factors broadcasted by other robots, such as bottlenecks on some paths. If they encounter obstacles on their route, they are able to navigate around them on alternative paths if necessary.
Scalable, redundant, saving space and flexible
A transport robot fleet is scalable and new vehicles can be added at will. Their ability to find their path is independent from any additional technical support elements such as reflectors on the walls. Every change to the production process can be adapted to with these AGVs. All it takes is to save the changes of the environment in their system and update their saved destinations.
“Industry 4.0 is an important topic even when dealing with in-plant transport tasks.”
The transport robot fleet is able to quickly compensate fleet member outages. Should one vehicle fail, then others will calculate alternative paths and take over its tasks. The robots also share space flexibly when in narrow corridors, in front of machines used by staff or around possible temporary obstacles. The technological challenges when using such autonomous transport systems come about due to varying conditions customers wishing to install a fleet may have, but also because the vehicles’ and management system’s communication with the machinery used in a customer’s production line usually has to be designed individually for the customer’s precise needs. Doing so ensures that transport orders can be created as necessary from material demand, production processes are integrated correctly and all safety measures are abided by.
The german article was printed in the 7th issue of the VDMA News.