L’esperienza BHS applicata all’intralogistica
In an industrial environment that is increasingly dynamic and complex in both structure and management procedures, It needed to organize logistics operations by defining a system that is flexible, rapid in operation but above all capable of adapting to change prevails.
In fact, the evolutionary status of industrial 4.0 processes has resulted in a new way of planning and controlling the flow and storage of raw materials, products and related information that contrasts linear movement - in and out of the company – together with coordination of operations that differ in purpose and origin, aimed at managing a variety of product types.
The goal is to meet the needs of the end customer by optimizing the company's internal logistics operations in order to increase their efficiency so to address the new requirements imposed by the market.
In such a context, Automate's many years of experience in the development of projects related to baggage transport in the airport environment has trasfered the innovative approach and technological solutions previously applied to transport systems to the world of intralogistics and, more specifically, the management of products in transit.
Thanks to multiple project experiences, Automate has developed a set of software libraries that can be customized to be easily and quickly integrated into both basic and particularly complex automation solutions, capable of being used in the automation of systems able of handling up to 30,000 packages per hour.
Specifically, the solution designed presents the implementation of an architecture consisting of:
- PLC software, equipped with purpose-built libraries to which management features provided by the customer itself are integrated, such as a communication protocol with high level
- SCADA system with a library of standard objects, again requested and provided by the customer.
Once the objectives to be achieved had been established, the main issue faced when analyzing and designing the architecture was the adaptation of the software libraries used by Automate in the airport to intralogistics environment.
Moreover, although it is not a particularly complex system, one of the critical issue has been the integration with other machines provided by third-party companies, as well as the management and tracking of parcels following a communication with the top level for real-time sorting. Difficulty to which is added an additional complexity at an early stage that has been the implementation of the algorithm for managing the balancing of sorting loads in different areas of the plant.
The strategy implemented by Automate to achieve satisfactory performance and results was to make use of the collaboration of engineers specialized in the field. The team operated in two groups of technicians engaged at the same time on different lines or areas of the plant: the seniors, who were responsible for initiating the work and organizing the operations, and the juniors, to whom the same experts entrusted simpler tasks to be focused on the implementation of the software for 12 different PLCs and the SCADA system.
From there, the team proceeded with the creation of a state-of-the-art product capable of enhancing the plant's performance by bringing it up to maximum effective capacity and the highest level of accuracy in sorting practices. Goal achieved by also making use of emulation tools of the plant itself, the purpose of which is to verify the validity of the technological tool designed by first adopting less complex and then increasingly in-depth and reliable tools, such as Rockwell's Emulate3D.
The project encountered several difficulties both in the design phase and in the implementation and commissioning phase, but the choice of organizing a team of technicians capable of dealing with both the Hardware and software part and the choice of adopting an Agile methodology made it possible to deal with the various problems encountered in a timely, fast and effective manner.
The decision to adopt emulation tools made it possible to identify improvements both at the design level and during the pre-commissioning phase, allowing the work team to intervene promptly and preventively, avoiding dispersion of valuable time and resources but above all limiting as much as possible the impact on the customer's supply chain operations.