Three essentials for the use of robots in logistics

04 January 2021
Bart Verlinden

More and more SMEs are considering the use of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to assist their employees logistically. However, the use of an AMR in this way has a huge effect on an organisation. Our new demo from the Industry 4.0 'Operator Support' Living Lab shows how to go about it.

We use the Industry 4.0 'Operator support' testing platform to demonstrate how you can assist your workers with advanced technologies such as digital work instructions, cobots and other systems.

Logistics as a Cinderella issue

Our extensive experience with SMEs revealed an underappreciated problem: in many companies the logistics of smart manufacturing - specifically the need for people to walk around to find materials for the machines - seems to be at least as much of a challenge as the operation of the machines themselves. Helping the machine operators to do this would therefore also be useful.

That is why Sirris developed a new demonstrator at the Diepenbeek site focused on the use of autonomous mobile robots. After all, there is a lot to consider when integrating a logistics AMR in a factory. We want to use the demonstrator to show the feasibility of these types of new platforms in SMEs. The purchase of one or more AMRs also brings some new challenges with it.

Three areas for attention

The integration of an AMR requires knowledge in three areas:

  1. Information technology (IT)
    The AMR needs to know which product to fetch and at what time. You will therefore have to provide digital management and planning.
  2. Operational technology (OT)
    This concerns the technology of the AMR itself. There is a very wide range of solutions available to you, but you have to make the right choice for your specific situation.
  3. Operations management
    It’s not possible to just buy an AMR and think it can be used in the workplace immediately. You must make the right choices about the location of the machines, any stock buffers needed on the machines, the carriers that will have to be fitted to the AMR, and so on. We deal with all those issues together with our new demonstrator.

See the full demo in this video:

Would you like to know more about how to use an AGV (automated guided vehicle) or AMR productively and what the steps in such a process are? During the hands-on masterclass ‘Production logistics 4.0 - Meet the AMRs’, which takes place on 2 March 2021, Sirris will encourage you to discover the possibilities for yourself. More information about this and how to register can be found in our agenda

This article is based on an interview that appeared on the VLAIO website.

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