Mobile Robots: the backbone of the factory of the future
Mar 04, 2020 — The increasing networking of industrial production requires more and more intelligent solutions in the field of intralogistics. Mobile robots help to successfully meet the demand for a highly flexible and transparent material flow. A Danish manufacturer shows how it works.
The factory of the future has been taking shape for a long time; digital platforms are being used, people and machines are collaborating in everyday work, manufacturing technologies are becoming continuously more efficient. At the same time, the increasingly automated processes require innovative concepts for intralogistics. Industry 4.0 can only function optimally if production and logistics processes are efficiently linked.
However, such networking is often not taking place yet. Highly qualified employees often take care of in-house transports manually, at the expense of efficiency. Logistics 4.0 calls for solutions that act as a flexible link between individual production stages. One obvious answer is mobile robots, which enable simple, dynamic and cost-effective automation of internal flows of goods. In this way, processes can be linked, resources used purposefully and employees relieved.
Danish robotics expertise
One of the pioneers in this field is Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR). The company from Odense specializes in the development of autonomous, mobile robots for material handling. Autonomous because MiR robots can independently navigate in a dynamic environment thanks to their sensor systems and security algorithms without interfering with the infrastructure of production facilities. This enables them to operate safely side by side with humans. Top modules such as shelf units or cart-pulling hooks eventually make the robot colleague a flexible tool that can automate almost any transport task.
Doubling of production capacity at Kamstrup
The example of Kamstrup A / S shows how a seamless flow of goods between static production lines and production cells can be realized by mobile robots. At the manufacturer of intelligent meter solutions, four MiR100 robots equipped with conveyor top modules, transport semi-finished products and finished products without human intervention. The intralogistics solution meets the Industry 4.0 paradigm of digital networking by integrating it into the company’s ERP system. When a sales representative issues a new order, the mobile robots will receive a list of routes that they will gradually follow.
Kamstrup has almost completely automated its production through the transport robots, which are in continuous operation. The manufacturer uses maximum production capacity and keeps its delivery expectation of only 72 hours. “The MiR robots play a crucial role in maximizing our throughput. They even allowed us to double our production, “explains Flemming Møller Hanser, production manager at Kamstrup.
Intralogistics 4.0 made very user-friendly
A look at practical examples not only shows how mobile robotics makes factories fit for the future. It also emphasizes that innovative technology is for everyone because even users without prior programming skills can set up the MiR robots and make them work. The robots can be easily operated via an intuitive user interface with any mobile device or computer. The mobile robots are collaborative and designed to work safely side by side with its human colleagues. When the robot takes over the internal transportation tasks, it leaves time for its human colleagues to do more valuable tasks, ensuring smooth and efficient workflows.
After all, the focus of Industry 4.0 is always the well-rehearsed coexistence of man and machine. At Kamstrup, this means relieving the employees from monotone transportation tasks and letting them use their expertise for prototype development. This ultimately makes the manufacturer both future-oriented and competitive.