Many paths to automation at LogiMAT

Barbara Adam -
News Story
- 4 Apr 2024 ( #1173 ) - Stuttgart, Germany
6 min read
Automation was one of the key trends at LogiMAT 2024
Automation was one of the key trends at LogiMAT 2024

Automation was one of - if not the - biggest trend at LogiMAT in Stuttgart, with exhibitors showcasing many different ways to improve processes with no or minimal human assistance.

More than 1,600 exhibitors showcased their products at LogiMAT from March 19 to 21, which ran under the theme Shaping Change Together: Sustainability, AI, Ergonomics.

“Automation is the most significant and most relevant trend in our industry,” says Frank Mueller, Still’s senior vice president of sales and service business development.

Before Covid hit, Still surveyed medium and large businesses about their automation plans.

“More than 50% wanted to automate 50% to 60% of their processes in the next five years,” Mueller says. “This is what we’re seeing now.”

Entry level options

Still's EXV iGo automated high lift pallet truck can be set up within an hour
Still's EXV iGo automated high lift pallet truck can be set up within an hour

Aware of how daunting automation can be for smaller operations, Hamburg-based Still developed entry-level automated solutions that are easy to install as well as scalable.

On display at Still’s booth at LogiMAT was the EXV iGo automated high lift pallet truck that can be set up within an hour.

Visitors to the stand had the opportunity to configure the pallet automated truck’s parameters such as the route and handover stations.

Logitrans chief executive officer Gitte Kirkegaard says Logirobot is "low-level automation"
Logitrans chief executive officer Gitte Kirkegaard says Logirobot is "low-level automation"

Logitrans also focused on entry-level automation for non-value-adding tasks, such as transporting pallets between different departments in production.

The Danish equipment maker unveiled its Logirobot autonomous pallet jack collaborative robot (cobot), developed in collaboration with Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR).

Logitrans chief executive officer Gitte Kirkegaard says rather than being fully automated, Logirobot has manual functionality.

“This is low-level automation for companies that maybe have some reservations about automation or don’t want to spend too much money on it,” Kirkegaard says. “It’s a stand-alone robot that can be installed in a day.”

The Pramac stand had three new X-ACT mobile logistics robots on display, the result of a collaboration between Zapi Group’s BlueBotics and Pramac.

The new line of robots are sold under Pramac’s new business unit, Lifter Mobile Robotics, currently comprise the Hybrix collaborative mobile robot pallet truck, the Aptix fully autonomous pallet truck and the Amrix fully autonomous platform robot.

All three models are designed as plug-and-play equipment for dynamic environments such as warehouses and factories.

EK Robotics chief sales officer Ronald Kretschmer with the Vario Move
EK Robotics chief sales officer Ronald Kretschmer with the Vario Move

Germany’s EK Robotics also has quick setup AMRs, which can be deployed faster than most AGVs.

EK Robotics’ two-in-one X Move transport platform can be programmed as an AGV or an AMR.

At LogiMAT, the company launched the X Move 600, with a 600 kg payload, into the transport platform family, which already included the 150, 1,200 and 2,000 models.

The X Move models and the company’s Vario Move robots, which have a payload of up to 1.6 T, received a fantastic reception at LogiMAT, according to EK Robotics chief sales officer Ronald Kretschmer.

Staubli's Julien Lora with the FL1500, developed in collaboration with Mercedes Benz
Staubli's Julien Lora with the FL1500, developed in collaboration with Mercedes Benz

The Staubli stand at LogiMAT showcased its prototype counterbalance AGV forklift, developed in collaboration with automaker Mercedes Benz.

Staubli approached the development of the AGV in a different manner to most other OEMs, starting with an application and meeting its needs, rather than working from a concept that may later require tailoring to various applications.

The Germany company also started development from a high payload background of up to 450 T, rather than a pallet transportation background.

“The technology that’s inside has been proven over the last year by transporting huge payloads,” says Julien Lora, Staubli’s marketing and product management leader for for AGV robotics.

Lora says Staubli’s FL1500, with a payload of up to 1.5 T, is the smallest counterbalance AGV forklift on the market.

“We believe that if it fits for Mercedes Benz it will fit for other automotive players as well,” he says. 

Staubli will deliver its first pilot FL1500 to Mercedes Benz this year, with remaining units scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2025.

Brownfields

Other OEMs at LogiMAT presented options for adding automation to existing facilities.

Rockwell Automation’s Otto Motors exhibited its updated autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) range.

A software update to Otto’s AMRs released in February was specifically designed for brownfield facilities, which have very limited space. 

The new software can optimise floor space by decreasing the area needed for dedicated AMR parking by up to 50%.

On the Linde stand was its compact 1.2 T automated pallet stacker, L-Matic C designed for brownfield automation due to its short, narrow design that can navigate tight and narrow aisles.

Still in the concept phase, the L-Matic C pallet stacker is expected to come to market late this year or early next year.

All-out automation

The biggest players in the materials handling sector had the biggest booths at LogiMAT, as well as the largest range of automation options.

Toyota's stand was a sensory experience
Toyota's stand was a sensory experience

Toyota Material Handling’s presence at LogiMAT was a multi-media super-sensory experience dubbed the Stadium of Intralogistics, which included an “innovation camp” and an “automation arena”.

An intralogistics relay race was displayed in Toyota’s automation arena, showcasing how the driverless reach truck BT Reflex Autopilot and the high lift truck BT Staxio Autopilot can work together with the high-racking shuttle systems.

Chinese automated logistics company LiBiao Robotics’s AirRob tote handling system made its European debut at Logimat, on display alongside the company’s established innovation, the tSort table-sorting solution.

LiBiao overseas sales director Ronan Shen says t-Sort is already in use in more than 400 projects around the world, including about 50 in Europe.

Building on the t-Sort project is LiBiao’s 3D picking system, the Air Rob, designed for high racking systems using either pallets or totes.

In keeping with the company’s name, which means “from China, go global”, Shen says the AirRob system is being tested and optimised in real world conditions. It’s currently in use in two projects in China for global fashion retailer Uniqlo and shoe-maker Sketchers.

“Simultaneously as we are optimising this system, we are also applying for the certifications for the different areas of the world," Shen says, adding the company hopes to begin work on its first European project in the second half of this year.

The Dematic stand had its new bin-to-picker AMR, pouch hub and overhead systems on display, as well as drone inspection flights in its VirtuReality Hub.

China’s Multiway Robotics, which entered the European market two years ago, displayed four of its robots at LogiMAT, including its WeFront X20S and SL14 pallet stackers.

“We are showing how the AGVs work autonomously from shipping, stacking to other activities,” says Andre Tai, Multiway’s overseas sales director.

Tai says Multiway planned to launch in the third quarter of this year an autonomous forklift capable of unloading trucks from the rear.

As well as a suite of unmanned forklifts, AMRs and tow tractors, Multiway also has its own warehouse control system and robot control systems.

Swisslog's Sean Ledbury
Swisslog's Sean Ledbury

Swisslog had its third generation ItemPiQ robot on display at its LogiMAT stand.

“ItemPiQ is designed to go on any picking station solution, whether its AutoStore, a shuttle-based solution or a mini-load solution,” says Sean Ledbury, Swisslog Australia’s head of sales and marketing.

AutoStore’s established automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) was also featured at the Swisslog booth.

Swisslog is the world’s biggest integrator of AutoStore systems, the innovative cube storage company founded in 1996.

Cognex's boxketball game proved very popular with LogiMAT visitors
Cognex's boxketball game proved very popular with LogiMAT visitors

American machine vision and industrial identification company Cognex, meanwhile, used its booth to demonstrate how modern image processing can improve logistics operations by improving ergonomics and efficiency.

The company’s technology includes systems that enable hands-free scanning, its new 380 modular vision scanning tunnel and AI-powered technologies to make scanning faster and more reliable.

Cognex illustrated its technology by inviting visitors to see how well they could score in a 30-second game of boxketball.

To play boxketball, players shoot packages through a basketball-style hoop styled to look like a box. Cognex’s DataMan 380 scanned codes on the packages as they flew through the hoop, displaying results in real time. 

Cognex says while shooting packages isn’t as easy as shooting basketballs, the scanners kept up with the rapid shooting throughout the show, and multiple players managed to score high enough to take home a prize: a Cognex hat.

Missed last week's LogiMAT report? Read it here. See other event highlights in our LogiMAT Gallery.

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