proANT 576 for Pallets ICE in Munich Central Station

The ICE site Munich Central Station received a fully automated intralogistics system with an autonomous automated guided vehicle system (AGV) by InSystems Automation. The new “proANT AGV 576” is used for the transport of lattice boxes and Euro pallets (with the size 1,200 mm x 800 mm x 1,000 mm) between material storage and maintenance level. The special features of the application include on the one hand the installation of an intelligent car park management system “Arrivial Selectors” in the track aisles and, on the other hand, the connection to the existing elevator system.

  • Field: Deutsche Bahn (German Railways)
  • 1 vehicle
  • Changing floors with freight elevator
  • Automatic selection of the next free pallet position

Picture source: DB Fernverkehr AG, ICE site Munich

Task, Realization and Customer Benefits

The goal of the project was to supply the maintenance tracks with material from the warehouse using automated systems. For this purpose, InSystems developed a driverless transport system (AGV), which meets the requirements and fits into the complex environment of the ICE plant.

The company opted for the proANT AGV 576 primarily because it was no longer able to provide and find sufficient skilled workers for the internal material flow supply. The new technology enables to supply the track lanes completely autonomously, independent of future worker fluctuations. Employees who have so far taken care of the transport can be transferred to other value-adding tasks.

Lithium iron phosphate LiFeYPo4 batteries are integrated in the new transport robot. When fully charged, they enable smooth operation for up to six hours and have a very long service life when used properly. The lithium iron phosphate is non-toxic and non-flammable. In contrast to conventional Li-ion cells, no metallic lithium is deposited during overcharging and no oxygen is released. The vehicle is charged at a 50A charging station. This has a driving charge factor of 5, which means that the transport robot can drive 5 hours for every hour it charges. The AGV can drive 450 m about seven times per hour. It moves fully automatically with the elevator from the cellar to the maintenance level in order to transport the material from the material store to the train.

Initial situation

The ICE site in Munich Hauptbahnhof was built in 1989 and successively put into operation until 1995. The site is 435 m long, 50 m wide and 14 m high. On a total area of approximately 36,000 square meters, there are 6 hall tracks, where operational maintenance on high-speed train multiple units takes place. The maintenance work can be carried out ergonomically on 3 working levels.
So far, hand pallet trucks (“ants”) or forklifts powered by fuel or lead-acid batteries have mainly been used for transport. The distance between the material storage area and the material stations on the track is between 30 and 450 m. The distance between the material storage area and the material stations on the track is between 30 and 450 m.

Project description

The autonomous driverless transport system from InSystems Automation is designed to optimize intralogistics at the site. In an initial configuration phase, the modern pallet truck was moved manually using an integrated joystick. All the distance profiles recorded by the laser scanners were saved and combined with the data from the motor encoders to create a map of the environment that shows the contours of the surrounding objects.

On the basis of the created map, the setting of the route planning begins with an easy-to-use and flexible visualization. Within the pre-scanned map, the robot receives a virtual line, which it follows during later operations without leaving it. Various commands can then be set at defined nodes, so-called goals, such as dropping load carriers, opening doors or checking the status of an intersection. When the robot operates, it starts an initial localization to determine its current position. To do this, it compares the distance profiles it got from its laser scanners with the relevant parts of the map. This localization algorithm is executed at regular intervals during autonomous driving, so that the robot can constantly verify its position and reliably navigate

“Arrival Selector” – Automatic selection of the next free storage place

In the material warehouse in the basement of the IC site, a picking area with five storage places for load carriers was created and a management system was set up. The parking spaces are marked by yellow lines on the floor. The lots are used to store the pallets for transport and to park empty pallets after they return from a transport. The transport orders are generated using a graphical user interface. In the track aisles on the maintenance level, three pallet parking spaces are also set up at five material stations. In order for the robot to automatically detect during the pallet delivery which position at the material station in the track is occupied or free, a sensor is installed above each parking position. If the vehicle brings a pallet, the final position in the material station is not determined until shortly before arrival. The robot navigates within the taught-in map to a so-called “Arrival Selector”, which is set up at each material station. Once there, the status of the sensors at the material station is evaluated in the fleet management server. The robot places the pallet in the first free space. If all load carrier positions are taken, the vehicle stops and reports an error until one position becomes available.

Use of freight elevator for transport across floors

On the way to the maintenance level from the basement, the vehicle must use the existing elevator system. For this purpose, a coupling PLC was installed in the elevator control room as the electrical interface between the DTS and the elevator. The coupling PLC gets commands from the fleet management server and controls the elevator by sending signals, which bypass the buttons of the elevator. In addition, a lamp has been mounted on the elevator in order to show the workers that there is a vehicle in the elevator. If the elevator is occupied by a robot, the lamps flash until the vehicle has left the elevator again. The manual call buttons of the elevator are locked during this time.

In addition to the transport robot, manually operated conveyor vehicles and forklifts also operate on the maintenance level. If the travel path is blocked by a forklift truck, the vehicle can be instructed on the proANT and in the elevator via a command button to approach a parking position in order to clear the travel path.

Customer benefits:

  • The autonomously navigating transport robot handles the transport of the pallets completely autonomously so that no employees have to be involved in transport tasks.
  • The AGV can be installed without infrastructure changes such as reflectors and navigates in a demanding dynamic environment.
  • Increased product quality and process reliability
  • Shortage in process supply are minimized
  • Transport orders are carried out precisely, efficiently and securely
  • Individual integration into the production context (communication with the elevator, installation of material stations and intelligent load carrier management)
  • The fleet of transport robots is scalable for future production increases.
  • All material movements are tracked. The material flow becomes transparent.