continues sharing the results of the detailed testing for the 2020 IFOY (International Forklift and Intralogistics Solution of the Year) Awards. This week, we share the results in the AGV/Robot category.
TractEasy is an autonomous electric tow tractor enabling automation of logistics processes. The driverless, zero-emission tractor has a towing capacity of 25 T and can be used both indoors and outdoors thanks to its electric drive. It can achieve speeds of up to 25 km/h.
Although the popularity of autonomous vehicles in intralogistics has increased rapidly in recent years, AGVs are not new. So far, however, their deployment has often been limited to within the four walls of the warehouse or the production environment and they require even floors.
TractEasy is suitable for indoors and outdoors and can operate in a range of weather conditions: heavy rain, light snow and temperatures from -15°C to +35 °C. The tow tractor can safely drive in mixed traffic (cars, pedestrians, bikes) and can operate on uneven ground thanks to its ground clearance. Also, complex circumstances, for example, when driving through gates or past traffic lights, are no problem for the TractEasy. In those cases, however, the obstacle must be equipped with an extra module for the system to communicate with. For the development of the tractor, EasyMile partnered with TLD. EasyMile brought the autonomous technology platform, which is integrated into TLD's JET-16 electric tow tractor platform.
The tow tractor is equipped with a full range of sensors - such as LIDARS, cameras, GPS, IMU and odometry - enabling safe and reliable navigation without a need for additional infrastructure.
During autonomous mode, the route learned by teach-in is constantly compared with the actual situation. The taught-in route can be optimised using the software developed by EasyMile. Using this software, speeds can also be easily adjusted, even per zone or area.
The tractor features two safety zones. Firstly, the speed of the vehicle is gradually reduced to zero if an obstacle is identified within one metre of the sides or 2-10 m in front of the tractor (depending on the speed). If the obstacle is within a distance of 60 cm, the emergency brake is automatically applied and the tractor comes to an abrupt standstill. In this case, an acoustic signal sounds. The same signal also sounds when the tractor starts an autonomous trip. This way, the surroundings are alerted to the autonomous vehicle.
At the stops along the route, a preset stop time can be selected, or a stop until the truck is manually commanded to continue on the route again.
EasyMile estimates that when a complete logistics process is replaced with TractEasy vehicles, this results in a ROI of about two years for a two-shift operation on five days a week. With 24/7 operations, the ROI can even be reduced to 1.2 years, according to the manufacturer.
There is no comprehensive test protocol for this nomination, but during the IFOY demo, the solution convinced the test team of a safe and trouble-free autonomous operation. Changing routes requires some knowledge and time.
IFOY test verdict:
By increasing productivity and reducing operational costs, TractEasy provides more flexibility, both from a technical perspective with the ability to easily re-allocate the vehicle as well as from a human resource perspective with reduced handling of sick leave, vacations and training. Because the vehicle can be used indoors as well as outdoors, new doors open for autonomous transport in intralogistics.
Geek+ C200 Robot Shuttle System
The new Geek+ C200 Robot Shuttle System combines the bin-carrying C200 series robot with the normal mezzanine rack to realise goods-to-person picking as a cost-effective, high storage capacity and high flexibility solution. The solution has a weight of 270 kg and measures 920 x 690 x 2,500 mm (length x width x height). It identifies, picks and transports standard-sized bins and cartons weighing up to 40 kg. It is suitable for multi-SKU storage and picking applications and designed to operate on single layer racks and multi-layer mezzanine racks.
The system fits into existing warehouses and can be implemented quickly and without major modifications to the building or infrastructure. Furthermore, it is easy to adapt to changes in workload by adding or removing robots. The system can also be used in single-layer environments as well as in multi-layer operations, where, for example, goods are collected on a mezzanine floor.
The Geek+ C200 Robot Shuttle System navigates accurately, to the exact centimetre. For this, the solution uses QR-codes and three cameras: one underneath the vehicle and one on either side of the load-carrying device. It is characterised by new data analysis and machine learning. With new data, the AI algorithms are constantly upgraded to increase in precision and complexity. The robot shuttle can reach driving speeds of 2 m/s. The lifting speed is just over 26 cm/s.
When processes allow it or the battery capacity is under 70%, the C200 independently navigates to the charging station to recharge the lithium-ion battery. Continuous availability is thus guaranteed.
This picking solution can reduce costs. Overall costs have been halved compared to traditional shuttle systems - and with equivalent picking efficiency and storage capacity, according to the manufacturer. Moreover, compared to former models in the market, its modular layout and high flexibility make the deployment and maintenance of the AI robots easy and accessible.
There is no concrete IFOY test protocol for this type of solution, but during the IFOY Test Days, the accuracy of the robot, the swift movements and the trouble-free deployment impressed the testers.
As soon as the robot detects and approaches an obstacle, it gives an audio warning. This was in Chinese for the IFOY test robot, but can also be set in English, the manufacturer assures us. If the obstacle is not removed in time (or the person does not pass through in time), the C200 stops 30 cm from the detected object (or person). This distance is adjustable as well.
Of course, the QR codes on the floor in particular face the risk of becoming dirty or damaged. A clean working environment and regular attention to the codes is therefore desirable.
IFOY test verdict:
The new Geek+ 200 Robot Shuttle System is an innovative, productive and AI-driven solution to improve order fulfilment efficiency in the warehouse distribution centre, realising goods-to-person picking with cost effectiveness, high storage capacity and high flexibility.
Raymond Courier 3030
The Raymond Corporation's Courier 3030 automated stacker, which can be used in both automated and manual operation modes, combines horizontal transport and vertical pallet lift. The stacker has a lifting height of approximately 1,800 mm and a load capacity of over 1 T.
Unique to the materials handling industry is the Seegrid vision-guided technology. Thanks to this technology, the stacker can navigate freely. No modifications to the infrastructure are required. Ten stereoscopic cameras continuously monitor the environment and navigate using contrast and an algorithm. The Courier 3030 utilises the vision-guided technology to capture a 360-degree view of its surroundings while providing the ability to map locations, identify obstructions and control vehicle behaviours. The teach-in process, using the clear display, is simple and intuitive. Within minutes, new routes are learned or adjustments to existing tasks are made. It makes route training easy, fast and fun to do.
Safe operation is monitored by two Sick scanners cameras and a light curtain, which throws a 270-degree 'safety screen' around the front side of the truck. This light curtain can be adapted to the environment, so that possible obstacles are always recognised. The Supervisor software of the Courier 3030 acts like a kind of traffic cop. It enables the operator to simultaneously monitor and manage multiple trucks from a mobile or web-enabled computer. As standard, the automated stacker comes with the iWAREHOUSE warehouse optimisation system. This system monitors the truck and prevents, for example, unauthorised use. A user configurable pre-shift check can be set up, too.
When integrated with the iWAREHOUSE system, any web-enabled device can deliver real-time location and status updates, providing data-driven insights into a facility's operations. Autogenerated reports include short- and long-term impact data, vehicle and operator utilisation reports and battery and maintenance information from the entire industrial fleet. In addition, the IFOY test truck was equipped with the optional real-time location tracking system, which locates the truck accurate to the meter. Based on the data, it is very easy to determine any bottlenecks or the location of possible collisions. The system can also prevent the stacker from entering a zone to which it does not have access.
The Courier 3030 helps maximise productivity and reduce labour costs. The innovative technology frees operators from repetitive, low-value tasks and reduces employees' physical fatigue by relieving operators of long-haul application.
According to Raymond, the TCO can be up to 25% lower than other navigation technologies. Based on the projects already completed, the average ROI is one and a half years. The more than 200 trucks in the projects that have already been completed have run more than 4.3 million km and handled more than 3.6 million kg of goods. The number of incidents is zero!
IFOY Test verdict:
The Courier 3030 enables lean management optimisation and maximum productivity. The automated stacker offers a cost-effective solution for today's labour shortages by efficiently and reliably performing a variety of repetitive tasks. Thanks to the unique Seegrid vision-guided technology, adjustments to the infrastructure are no longer required. This is an enormous advantage in the view of the IFOY test team.