Date: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Open Source platform to internal logistics - alternative for Commercial solutions?   

Current automated intra logistic systems on the market consist of one or entire fleets of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) that are often configured for one structured, well defined operation environment. However, reconfiguration, scalability and 'vendor lock-in' can increase costs especially for small & medium-sized manufacturers.                                                                   

In many manufacturing companies, operations like unloading / loading are still done by workers. Due to the demand of manual work it is often not economically feasible to build and invest in partially automated solutions. On the other hand, investing in fully automated solutions is expensive and complex: developed context-awareness of human workers, innovative approaches for material handling, optimized task planning for robots and capability to interact with the changing environment. A challenge especially for companies experiencing fluctuations in production. 

Although these solutions require a lot of capital, research and technology development, cheaper solutions for a wide range of production tasks can be developed. The L4MS project is tackling these issues by developing an alternative solution for testing and trialing. A completely new platform is designed to help manufacturing SMEs turning their factory logistics ‘automation friendly’ by removing pricey vendor lock-ins and bringing more flexibility to the operational environment.

Open-source platform brings flexibility

Open Platform for Innovations in Logistics (OPIL) , as the name suggests, is an open-source platform that connects and improves communication between different factory floor resources. It supports the adaptation of software, hardware and other open-source frameworks. Most importantly, the open-source approach reduces the dependency of a single service provider and increases customization capability based on specific business needs - important especially for smaller manufacturers.

There are several reasons why manufacturers might consider investing in automation, so here are some key features OPIL could offer for smaller companies:

  1. Customization: Open-source platform enables the integration of different factory equipment. This means you can connect the factory’s current hardware / software to OPIL and develop a solution to solve specific pain points that are unique to your factory logistics -without having to purchase additional services or tools

  2. Virtual Commissioning: OPIL provides interfaces to external simulation tools. Creating a digital twin of the factory can save time and money when a solution is virtually tested and optimized before actual implementation

  3. Data-based decision-making: OPIL provides real-time data feedback from defined data points, to support decision making for both operators and business developers. Thanks to its flexibility, any system integrator or automation provider can step in and build a customized solution

  4. Low-costs: Installation and license are free, also building your digital twin for those who get selected to the program. L4MS acceleration programs grant up to 250,000€ equity-free funding for manufacturers & tech providers to test, develop and build customized logistics solutions
    via 2019 Open Call


Solving logistical barriers with L4MS

While OPIL is a constantly developing platform and not a commercial service, L4MS offers funding up to 250,000€ for promising ideas, allowing smaller companies to start testing and optimizing solutions together with L4MS experts. Manufacturers and technology providers can team up and define together what kind of solution would help to uptake robotics faster and cheaper by building the solution using OPIL and 3D factory simulation, to virtually test the solution before actual implementation.

Instead of investing in structured or defined operation environment based on current business needs, smaller manufacturers benefit more in the long run from a responsive, open logistic system that can be accessed by any integrator in the future.  

Example of a team that entered L4MS late 2018 through Open Call:
Newest intra-factory logistics technology applied in traditional industry


Markus Taumberger

Senior Scientist, VTT
Mentor and leader of OPIL Development in L4MS

Interested in testing OPIL? Manufacturing SMEs, automation providers, system integrators and technology providers are offered equity-free funding up to 250,000€ for promising Application Experiments, using OPIL and 3D simulation tool Visual Components, and to virtually test the logistical solution before actual implementation. Send your application individually or as consortium of 2-3 partners to L4MS Open Call before 30th Nov 13:00 CET.
Read more about OPIL and its technical specifications here

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