proANT 436 and proANT 576 in the metal production

ASTI InSystems has developed an Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) at the Großlöbichau site for the family business VACOM Vakuum Komponenten und Messtechnik GmbH, which was founded 25 years ago. In the modern “Smart Factory”, five transport robots of the type proANT 436 as well as an autonomously navigating pallet vehicle secure the material flow. The vehicles are connected to the Manufacturing Execution System (MES), the Warehouse Management System (WMS) and SAP. This enables transparent monitoring and documentation of all production steps as well as just-in-time transport deliveries.

  • Sector: mechanical engineering & operating technology
  • Fleet with 5 proANT 436 and 1 proANT 576
  • proANT 436 with big lifting device of 1,50 m
  • 45 work stations
  • Integration in a smart factory solution

Task and benefits

VACOM Vakuum Komponenten und Messtechnik GmbH is one of the leading European suppliers of vacuum mechanics, measurement technology and optics. The company now employs around 350 people. At the end of August last year, VACOM opened very modern factory building at the Großlöbichau site (Thuringia). The aim was to closely link logistics and production by means of Industry 4.0 applications, thus creating the conditions for a “Smart Factory”.

Therefore, the driverless transport system should not only transport material and components autonomously between the 45 workstations, but also communicate with the in-house production and logistics software in order to contribute to maximum quality and process reliability. This extensive connection of all machines and control systems is necessary above all because of the highly complex products, some of which consist of more than one hundred components and are manufactured tailored to the customer needs in batch sizes from 1 to 1,000 pieces. A classical line production does not exist. Therefore VACOM decided to cooperate with ASTI InSystems, who already has more than 20 years of experience in the integration of automation solutions. VACOM has ordered five transport robots of the type proANT 436, which can take over loads of up to 50 kg and navigate flexibly. Since larger loads of up to 400 kg also need to be transported, VACOM also integrated the proANT 576, which is specialized in the transport of pallets (with dimensions of 1,200 mm x 800 mm x 1,000 mm).

Initial situation

Before the integration of the AGV by ASTI InSystems, the transports between the individual workstations were carried out manually. Furthermore, there was no tracking of the processes. In some cases, it was unclear where the individual materials were located at what time. It was difficult to react to customer changes, for example a change in quantity, and new production needs. Employees spent a lot of time searching for components and bringing them to their workplaces. At least one member of the team per shift was charged with this task.

Project description

The proANT transport robots move on a 112 meter long and 35 meter wide factory environment. There are 45 work stations where different tasks such as welding, hardening or polishing are carried out. For each product there is an individual work plan and other lot sizes.

The transport robots are embedded in a complex warehouse and production logistics system for which VACOM uses MPDV’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Hydra and viastore Software’s viadat Warehouse Management System (WMS). The order generation is again carried out in SAP. Production folders with parts lists are generated by SAP and transferred to the MES. The MES is responsible for the complete detailed planning and controls which machine, which tool, which material and which employee is required. The bill of material and scheduling are sent to viadat (WMS) which coordinates the replenishment orders for the respective demand per operation. The replenishment orders are buffered in the supermarket warehouse of the production hall, which reduces the intermediate storage space at the individual work stations.

Immediately before processing, the WMS triggers a transport command and a transport robot is assigned to transport the material to one of the workstations. Each workstation is located in a separate room, which in turn contains a rack for incoming crates (incoming station) and a rack for crates to be picked up (outgoing station). When the worker is done with his order, the completed order is scanned and placed in the outgoing station. In this way, information is communicated to viadat so that a robot can then take the goods to the supermarket warehouse or the next work station.

Supply of the proANT vehicles

The transport robots type proANT 436 and proANT 576 are equipped with a bar code scanner. Furthermore, the transport robots of type proANT 436 have an extra high lifting device of 1.50 m.  On their way through the production hall, the vehicles pass several automatic doors and is able to communicate with them.

The fleet of transport robots is flexibly scalable. For example, it is currently being considered to connect the three halls at the site with an additional autonomous transport robot for route trains in the outdoor area.

Customer benefits:

  • Autonomously navigating vehicles offer support to the operators during the production. The workers do not need to be removed from their workstations to perform transport tasks, but can focus on the actual production process.
  • The AGVs can be installed without changes in the infrastructure like reflectors.
  • Increase of product quality and process reliability.
  • Transport orders are executed precisely, efficiently and safely.
  • Individual integration into the production context.
  • Integration into the in-house production and logistics software.
  • The transport robot fleet is scalable for future production increases.
  • All material movements are recorded. The material flow in the company becomes transparent.

Link to the opening ceremony of the new smart factory production hall in Großlöbichau

Technical information:

proANT 436 AGV 50 kg

proANT 576 AGV 1200 kg