Replacing forklifts with robots to speed up intra-factory logistics
EMKA Sealing Systems manufactures rubber profiles that are used for sealing in the automotive sector and in the EMKA group companies which produce electrical closets and windows. Their 10,500-square-meter factory with 85 employees is located in la Rioja, Spain.
At the end of each extrusion line, semi-finished rubber profiles are collected on circular platforms of a metal rack and moved to an intermediate area with a forklift. The full rack weights more than a ton and reaches 1.5 meters in diameter.
The rubber profiles are then transformed into finished products and packed into boxes, and the boxes are transported to a warehouse on a pallet, the size of which is around one cubic meter and the weight 250 kg. This is done with a forklift as well.
As conventional forklifts require drivers, a considerable amount of time of the operators is spent on transportation of semi-finished and finished products. The goal of the L4MS experiment was to automate these processes.
OPIL modules with a tweak – lifting
Specialists at Bosonit, a Spain-based solution provider, designed a solution that replaced forklifts with collaborative mobile robots on both routes in the factory. They added altogether seven sensors to the factory floor to guide the robot, and integrated both the robot and the sensors to the OPIL platform.
When using the solution, the operator calls for the robot with a mobile computer. Once on the spot, the robot guides its forks under the load and lifts it before starting to move.
“We used most OPIL modules and nodes and also added our own solution for lifting and lowering of the forks,” says Miguel García González, Innovation Director at Bosonit.
3D simulation to support development work
Designing the solution took a couple of months including 3D simulation of the whole operation. The simulation was performed with the Visual Components software.
“The simulation helped us prevent technical issues which would affect the implementation at the factory”, Miguel García González says.
The solution with its sensors and the robot was installed at the factory to demonstrate its functioning. The benefit for the factory was estimated to be:
- Speeding the logistics process by one hour per day
- Relieving employees from operating the forklift.
OPIL offers easy integration
As an avid exploiter of open FIWARE-based solutions, Bosonit integrated its FIWARE-based OPIL solution to its IoT software platform.
“This experiment helped all technical partners to integrate OPIL to their solutions and thus to provide a wider set of technologies,” Miguel García González says.
The cost of the project was €360,000 for all companies involved. This included design and integration work at the factory, and also the robot and the sensors.
OPIL modules and other modules used in the EMKA Sealing Systems solution by Bosonit:
- The core of the OPIL platform
- OPIL Human Machine Interface as a web portal for users to view the status of the robot, sensors and tasks.
- OPIL Sensing and Perception and OPIL Task Planner modules to configure the factory layout, robot and sensors.
- 3D simulation tool Visual Components to create a digital twin
Partners in the L4MS experiment:
- Factory: EMKA Sealing System, factory manufacturing rubber sealing profiles
- Solution provider: Bosonit
- Robot provider: Robotnik