Industry 4.0 – and with it the demands for customised flexible intralogistics solutions – is being increasingly implemented within the courier, express and parcel (CEP) industry. Autonomous guided carts (AGCs) and tuggers prove to be efficient add-ons and alternatives to traditional material flow and sorter systems. This is according to Volker Glöckle, Head of Industry Cluster Intralogistics at SICK Automation.
SICK offers its modular Eco-System for AGCs with sensor solutions that make autonomous vehicles safe and efficient tools for enhanced intralogistical productivity.
Flexible logistical processes in CEP distribution centres require transportation techniques that can be adapted for the particular tasks – and also in terms of their sensor and control system technology. The aim is to exploit intelligent self-organising vehicle fleets that meet the growing need for flexibility, and thus efficiently network internal material flows in production and logistical processes.
“Whether localisation, personal safety, collision prevention or load handling – the modular Eco-System from SICK makes complete sensor solutions possible for all kinds of mobile platforms,” says Glöckle. “This means it offers maximum economic efficiency, functional reliability, and future-proofed investments.”
Not every package can be transported via conveyor belts
Conveying and sorting systems at CEP sites are designed mainly for objects with clearly defined dimensions. But the variety of goods to be handled has grown considerably with the boom in e-commerce. Furniture, tyres, bikes, and other items are so large in shape and volume that they need special intralogistical handling. “Self-driving tuggers are a smart solution for handling such items automatically,” Glöckle says. “The efficiency of the entire goods handling system in the hub increases significantly because workers are relieved from heavy and monotonous transportation tasks, and are available for high-value skilled tasks.”
Modular Eco-System for smart AGCs in warehouse logistics
As the autonomous tuggers and personnel in the warehouse work side-by-side, the AGCs are equipped with state-of-the-art SICK safety technology. Their localisation capabilities are also made by SICK – all provided as a turnkey solution that offers flexible adaptability to both the current and future needs at individual sorting facilities. Sensors and control units can be adopted to create customer- and application-specific solutions for mobile material flow technologies. “The entire Eco-System offers a variety of solution approaches for tasks involving personal safety, localisation and collision prevention, as well as for the handling and identification of transport loads,” Glöckle points out.
AGCs, sensor and CEP expertise come together for ideal performance
SICK’s portfolio for smart mobile automation merges the company’s long-term experience in AGV and AGC applications with its intelligent sensor technologies and broad knowledge of CEP processes. The variety of solutions for vehicle guidance (optical and magnetic line detection or grid localisation via data matrix codes, for example) combined with the wide range of safety-certified scanners, sensors and control components for 2D, 3D and 360° vehicle protection prove the flexibility of SICK sensor solution packages. “Other sensor solutions allow the automatic handling and identification of pallets, mesh boxes and other loading aids. Thus goods in tuggers or AGCs remain within the closed IT cycle of the operation and can be tracked and traced at all times,” Glöckle says. “Intelligent sensors also provide diagnostic functions – allowing optimised maintenance routines and the prevention of AGC failures, increasing vehicle availability as well as hub productivity.”
In addition to the flexible, individual arrangement of a solution, the SICK Eco-System minimises its complexity. All components are co-ordinated with one another, interfaces are harmonised and everything is available from a single source. This reliably minimises integration and functional risks. Moreover, the information from a variety of sensors can be transferred to higher-ranking control systems in the form of pre-processed raw data – simplifying their integration in a customer-specific control environment. Finally, the Eco-System is also designed to integrate the mobile material flow solution of the CEP warehouse in the cloud.
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