iGo Where You Go
Picture your ideal coworker. Independent but still a team player? Highly motivated and enthusiastic without being distracting? Gives you breathing room but is there when you need them? Now imagine we are not talking about a person but a horizontal order picker: the iGo neo CX 20 from STILL. Together with the Pepperl+Fuchs R2000 2-D laser scanner, an innovative new helper has been created for the logistics sector to be there every step of the way.
The daily routine in a warehouse consists of lifting and loading, bending and transporting, walking and standing. People who choose the job of a picker must be physically fit, stress-resistant, and meticulous. As a provider of intelligent intralogistics solutions, the development team at STILL is constantly looking for ways to improve logistics processes. When it came to horizontal picking, efficiency needed to be increased. “Our goal was to increase performance, making fatigue-free work possible, and provide improved ergonomics through increased route efficiency,” reports Erik Duewel, Product Manager for autonomous vehicles at STILL: “We achieved this goal with up to 30% increase in picking performance.”
Autonomous and on Demand
Previously, operators had to climb on and off to move the horizontal order picker—the goal was to reduce this to a minimum and make the movement of the vehicle as autonomous as possible. “Because our Sales and Research and Development departments have been cooperating closely with Pepperl+Fuchs for years, we shared with them our vision for ‘automation on demand,’” Duewel reports. The new product needed to move and steer autonomously and follow the operators intelligently. The vehicle also had to meet the demanding safety requirements of a warehouse by avoiding obstacles, reducing its speed if necessary, crossing intersections only with operator approval, and maintaining a defined distance to shelves.
“The R2000 2-D laser scanner perfectly fulfills the requirements for the robot-based assistance system,” says Alexander Hermes, Key Account Manager at Pepperl+Fuchs. The distance-based photoelectric sensor is equipped with innovative Pulse Ranging Technology (PRT) for reliable and unambiguous measurement results. It reliably detects objects and is unaffected by interferences like extraneous light. For the iGo neo CX 20, one optimally fitting HD model from the R2000 family is mounted on both the left and right sides behind the driver’s seat. The employee climbs onto the order picker and manually drives it to the targeted shelf. Here, the vehicle control identifies this person as the responsible picker from the R2000 measurement data and follows them continuously using multidimensional object recognition. “Thanks to its 360° measuring angle—combined with a small spot size, high angular resolution, and a measuring range suitable for long distances—the sensor has a complete panoramic view. It doesn’t matter if the operator is next to the order picker, in front of it, or behind it; the iGo neo CX20 will find them,” Hermes adds. The system, consisting of a vehicle control and two laser scanners, is not diverted by other order pickers or other operating personnel. Further, the initial setup is easy and the vehicle is ready to use immediately after delivery.
“The vehicle follows the operator independently, detects their position, and always positions itself perfectly in relation to the shelf and the person,” Hermes adds. Its intelligence also allows it to detect empty shelves and pass them. All of this happens while adhering to the many safety regulations—the vehicle will even wait for operator approval before crossing intersections. “With this application, which makes day-to-day order picking easier and increases concentration on the task at hand, we were able to take an important step forward for robotics in intralogistics,” Duewel summarizes. “The ‘new coworker’ will not leave its operator’s side.”
I’ve Got My Eye on You ...
An innovative menu navigation system has been expanded into a real-world application. The R2000 2-D laser scanner has an interactive display that allows it to show text and graphic messages. For its first public presentation, the photoelectric sensor was given two eyes that followed the movements of trade-fair visitors and thus “kept an eye” on them.
During the commissioning of the iGo neo CX20, this function has been made an integral component of the vehicle-picker interaction. With its interactive display, the sensor shows the operators that they are registered with the selected horizontal order picker when it is in driving mode and also who exactly the machine is following.