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The standard-compliant technical term “driverless industrial trucks” is rarely used in practice. This is partly due to the fact that the standardization has not kept pace with the technical development.
The following abbreviations and acronyms are commonly used:
AGV – Automated Guided Vehicle
DTS – Driverless Transportsystem
An DTS consists of a fleet of vehicles which communicate with the machines and the warehouse via a mostly central order management system. Order management and communication are primary components of the DTS.
Transport Robot/ Mobile Robot
Although the term “transport robot” most accurately describes the technical potential of autonomously acting vehicles, the term “robot” cannot be used without concers with regard to safety aspects. Even though a great deal of research is currently being conducted on the topic of “collaborating robots”, according to existing safety regulations a robot must be equipped with a separating protective device. Of course, this is not possible for transport vehicles, which are expressly also supposed to drive on paths with passenger traffic.
AIC – AGV Interface Controller
The AIC is an application software and connects the production control system (e.g. MES or ERP) with the vehicle fleet. It “translates” the material request from the production system into a transport order (pick up from A – bring to B) and schedules a vehicle for it like a taxi center.
Details to AIC tasks and functions
The battery consists of individual battery cells that are connected together to form a block. To ensure that all battery cells are loaded equally (lifetime and safety) the cells are kept at the same charge level by a balancer circuit.
Further details about functions, properties and advantages of the used battery technology
ERP – Enterprise Resource Plannig
ERP refers to the system used to plan the resources capital, human and operating resources, material, etc. according to requirements. In manufacturing companies, the focus is on material requirements and machine capacity planning. There is a wide variety of ERP software systems that differ in terms of their focus on industry, company size, range of functions and software technology.
An AGV consists of a fleet of 1 to n automatically navigating, driverless vehicles. The fleet manager is responsible for the management the vehicles. The allocation of transport orders is carried out by the AIC.
The fleet manager monitors the technical condition of the individual vehicles. It supervizes the battery condition and sends vehicles to charging stations if necessary.
GUI Graphical User Interface
The graphical user interface or user interface describes the representation of an application software with control elements such as buttons, selection lists, dialog boxes. The GUI is used to operate the program, e.g. with keyboard and mouse or directly on a touch screen.
LHD – Load Handling Device
The type of load handling device used depends on the load to be transported and the load attachment. Belt or roller conveyors are often used.
A laser scanner scans its environment at a certain height and records the reflection. Based on the data, a 2-dimensional contour image can be created, which allows the vehicles to find their way around their surroundings. The environment scanner can also be used as a safety scanner for the identification of persons if it is appropriately designed and connected. It then has speed-dependent warning and protective fields.
MES – Manufacturing Execution System
Software system with which all relevant data of a production are comprehensively recorded, monitored and controlled in real time. MES is often used as a synonym for a production management system or production control. In the automation pyramid, MES is located at the plant management level between the enterprise resource planning (ERP) and the process control level (SCADA).
Navigation is the ability to find the optimal route to the destination by determining the current position and computing the way. For the calculation of the route, criteria have to be considered, similar to the way navigation systems in cars do it, e.g. to avoid traffic jams or to avoid toll roads.
The more factors that influence which route is the best, the more complex the algorithm used by the controller to calculate the route becomes. Details about the functionality of the proANT navigation.
The batteries used in the proANTs have the longest lifetime if they are always operated in a charging range of 70-30% and are constantly recharged during operation. We talk about possible short charging times of approx. 40-60 s, e.g. when the vehicle is standing at the transfer stations. It is therefore advisable to consider already at the specification stage at which positions such a charging station can be integrated. Transfer stations at the warehouse or a pre-zone, where all vehicles regularly take or hand over loads, are suitable places. Opportunity charging eliminates the need for additional charging times at separate charging stations, which increases the transport capacity.
If the AGVs drive on company roads that are also used by people, it must be ensured that the driverless vehicles do not pose a threat to them.
The vehicles must run around or stop, when people cross their way. Not only the braking distance must be taken into account, but also the load securing. Details about personal safety.
PLC – Programmable Logical Controller
A PLC is a control system that controls and regulates machines.
The PLC has inputs and outputs via which it is connected to the machine, sensors and actuators. There are different, manufacturer-dependent PLC programming languages with which the outputs are switched according to the desired function of the machine. The PLC can also visualize the system on operator panels for a Human Machine Interface (HMI).
A fleet of vehicles can grow with the number of transports. Thus, a transport system can start with a small transport capacity and investment. As the business develops, more vehicles can be added, which simply need to be registered in the system.
The Triangle is an angled, painted plate used for fine positioning of the vehicles. At all positions where the vehicle has to stand precisely docked for load transfer, the angle serves as an orientation for the laser scanner.
Visualization is used to display a machine/system status or process on a monitor.