Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) choose the way to their destination by themselves. Logistics 4.0 in practice

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Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) choose the way to their destination by themselves. Logistics 4.0 in practice

NORD Drivesystems, a company known for manufacturing modern drive systems, has announced the use of industry 4.0 solutions in its standards. They concern not only production activities but also storage, transport and distribution. Automated guided vehicles play an important role in this.

NORD Drivesystems manufactures drive electronics up to 160 kW (inverters, motor starters and electronics). The production centre in Aurich (Lower Saxony) that has been in operation since the early 1980s, has an area of 5,000 square meters and makes extensive use of intelligent technologies. Initially, the company produced its own frequency inverters. Over the years a range of inverters, motor soft starters and other electronic products have been developed. Today, about 100,000 of them are manufactured in a year.

The aim of the recently implemented solutions was to gain full control over production, and this transparency was to ensure reliable and on-time delivery for all NORD customers all over the world.

The driverless transport system (FTS – Fahrerlose Transportysteme in German) is an automatically controlled, ground supported transport vehicle. AGVs operate in-house transport without a control person and are driven by their own drive. Most functions, such as drive, steering, power supply – are integrated into the machine.

The advantage of such systems is, on the one hand, the possibility of flexible route management and on the other effective material flow. It has been used in NORD for several months.

AGVs avoid obstacles by themselves

Driverless transport systems ensure fast material transport and reduce the length of the working paths. FTS is responsible for the transport of incoming goods to the Automated Component Warehouse (AKL).

How does it work? The intelligent machine recognizes the need for start and end positions, loads the transport boxes independently and finds its own path to the destination. There is no fear that it will get lost, and any obstacles appearing on the route of the trolleys are automatically identified. The machine stops first and then bypasses the obstacle (the FTS itself finds a new path, e.g. by turning around).

Indeed, FTS is part of a comprehensive process improvement strategy. The basic motto that accompanied its creators were: maximum efficiency, speed and flexibility.

One of NORD Drivesystems’ characteristics is that almost all components are manufactured in the company’s own manufacturing facilities, thus ensuring full quality control.

Whether it’s series production, individually configurable products or single components – the modern, automated and flexible production and logistics infrastructure in Aurich allows the production and storage of equipment of all sizes. Even a single batch can be prepared without further configuration. The leaders of the company confirm that the demand for custom-made products is increasing, and the current high percentage of customizable devices is constantly growing.

Production without paperwork

After the start of production of the NORDAC LINK field distributor, a drive controller for flexible, decentralized installation (freely configurable according to specific application requirements), the production area was increased by 400 sqm and the storage area by 1,000 sqm. The efficient logistics chain and production were largely free of paperwork. The entire production process is controlled by means of a central order.

On the confirmation, each package receives a 2D code and can, therefore, be constantly tracked. The automated small parts warehouse with 2,000 six times segmented containers is centrally integrated into the production process and serves to store not only components but also semi-finished products. The modules are then assembled in the SMD (Surface Mounting Device) department and returned to the Automated Component Warehouse, from where they are directed to further processing with the use of THT (Through-Hole Technology).

Since almost all products are manufactured directly to the customer’s order, only a short period of time is needed for processing and storage. The next step, after the implementation of the driverless transport system (FTS), is to further digitize the ordering process so that customers can fully configure their devices themselves.

Photo: SSI Schaefer

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