Logistics control: Central & intelligent control system

Industry 4.0 refers to the intelligent networking of machines and workflows in production and warehouse processes with the help of communication and information technologies for the intelligent control and self-optimized organization of manufacturing and logistics.

Conventional internal transport systems quickly reach their limits. Products with a high number of variants, ever shorter production cycles, customer-specific special solutions or different throughputs require flexible and intelligent intralogistics solutions for largely automated and self-organized production and warehousing.

Logistics control

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Conventional intralogistics versus shuttle system

Material and goods flows in production usually run via conventional conveyor belts. In many cases, they are still controlled manually at various interfaces that are not coordinated with each other. This often prevents an uninterrupted flow of goods. Adjusting to a changed process flow also frequently causes a production stop - not optimal conditions for the economical operation of a production line.

In contrast, an intelligent rail and shuttle system simplifies intralogistics because the decentrally controlled shuttles move autonomously on the rail system and independently find the optimal route to the respective individual transport destination.

Thanks to the decentralized self-control, the shuttle system can be freely scaled without any problems by simply adding or removing autonomously operating shuttles without interrupting the flowing flow of goods. The resulting flexibly adaptable and stable material throughput makes the transport system more efficient and less prone to errors. Intelligent intralogistics control leads to improved value creation.

The intelligent transport system for your company

The montrac® transport system consists of a branched aluminum monorail system and various autonomously controlled transport shuttles with different functionality, which move independently on the monorail and know their position and transport destination at all times thanks to intelligent high-tech control.

The montrac® shuttles autonomously transport materials or workpieces weighing up to 50 kg to the specified destination at a speed of up to 55 meters per minute.

The track is made up - according to the modular principle - of a monorail system with various mutually compatible standard components. These ensure flexible routing with tight curves, electrically operated switches, crossings, rail rises and lift elements. Thanks to the decentralized high-tech control system, the smart router, the shuttles independently find the optimal route to the respective transport destination on the branched monorail system.

How does the intelligent montrac® logistics control work?

TracControl, the intelligent control of the montrac® transport system is based on the 'Smart Logistic Technology' method and enables the montrac® system to be operated independently of a higher-level control center. By means of 'Smart Logistic Technology', both the individual route sections and the shuttles in the montrac® system act autonomously and are decoupled from a higher-level control center.

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Intelligence in Motion - Design Guide

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The Smart Logistic Technology is available in two variants: the TracControl 1 with the TC1 IRM modules and the TracControl 2 with the central control unit TracControl 2 Unit (TC2U) and the TC2 IRM modules. The data exchange between the individual IRM modules (Intelligent Routing Module) with the shuttles, the route and the control center takes place on an optoelectronic basis using infrared.

  • The TracControl 2 Material Flow Controller (TC2-MFC) supplements the TracControl 2 components for visualization and monitoring of the material flow.

  • The components of the TracControl 1 are not compatible with those of the TracControl 2 because they use different transmission protocols.

TracControl 1 with the TC1-IRM modules

With TracControl 1, the product controls the route. This reduces complexity and costs to a minimum and allows flexible expansion at any time. The TC1-IRM serves as a clear and easy-to-use interface to the human.

Optionally, digital inputs/outputs can be configured for conventional operation or logic functions can be assigned to the TC1-IRM module using Smart Logistic Technology. Serial RS232 interfaces for reading and writing information are also available for shuttle control in networked systems.

A configuration device with TC1-IRM/TC1-ISM configurator software can be used to assign desired functions, set parameters, and access the TC1-ISM (Intelligent Shuttle Module) located in the shuttle.

According to its configuration, the TC1-IRM can send message and control signals to the interfaces and, if necessary, react logically to them.

A clear drop-down menu with 14 types as standard ranges from curve monitoring and autonomous control of TracSwitches to locking a shuttle at manual work stations, for example. The software can also be used to assign a new shuttle number to the conveyor vehicle or to change it.

For the operation of the route, each stop position requires a TC1-IRM module. Shuttles log on with the identification number and the destination address or receive the start command from the module together with an identifier. This identifier can be linked to a decision and thus steers the product to the desired station in a targeted manner. In this way, shuttles drive in the specified direction at branches.

TracControl 2 with TC2U control unit and TC2-IRM modules

The intelligent TracControl 2 offers many control options. The TracControl 2 unit (TC2U) serves as the central control unit or it acts as an interface to a control system.

The modules connected to the TC2U can be operated using Smart Logistic Technology, Control Technology or in mixed mode, whereby the operating mode can be defined for each module. The individual components are connected via a serial CAN bus (Controller Area Network) or via digital inputs and outputs.

The TC2U is available in different variants with different numbers of card slots. Switch cards or digital I/O cards can be plugged in here. The TC2U communicates with other controllers or the host computer via an Ethernet hardware interface. The in-house MDAC protocol, which is based on the UDP network protocol, is used for this. The configuration of the TC2U is done with any web browser via an integrated WebGUI.

Users can access via the Ethernet interface using a secure shell connection (SSH).

This allows customer-specific settings to be implemented, log files to be read out or software updates to be performed.

It also allows simple remote maintenance.

The data exchange between the shuttles and the TC2-IRM modules works similarly to the TC1-IRM modules by optoelectronic means. The communication between TC2U and the TC2-IRMs takes place via a CAN bus. In contrast to TracControl 1, TracControl 2 has a shuttle ID and a destination address stored in the conveyor vehicle.

TracControl 2 Material Flow Controller (TC2-MFC)

The TracControl 2 Material Flow Controller (TC2-MFC) complements the TracControl 2. The controller visualizes and controls the material flow, records and monitors the system status. The material flow controller constantly displays the positions of the shuttles and their destinations. Blockages or traffic jams can thus be prevented. This leads to optimum utilization of the plant.

Thanks to the user-friendly MFC GUI (Graphical User Interface), users can access the TC2-MFC from any network PC via a standard browser.

Remote access via VPN is possible regardless of location.

The montrac® Configurator

The montrac® configurator is available for download as freeware on the homepage. The program allows to create own layouts intuitively. This first draft allows montratec to act quickly and discuss it with the customer thanks to the visual representation.

The configurator creates parts lists and generates quotations. Furthermore, exports for CAD systems can be generated. This forms a good basis for quickly achieving the customer's desired goal.

Conclusion

Only with digitally networked machines and production processes and intelligently controlled logistics can production facilities be utilized to the maximum. Successfully managing internal transport, production, and warehouse processes will be an urgent task in the future in order to drive a company's innovative strength in the age of Industry 4.0.

The intelligently controlled montrac® transport system supports you in optimizing your intralogistics from the individual plant to the complete networked factory automation. In doing so, montrac® allows you the highest flexibility in production up to the manufacturing of individualized, customer-specific products in small lot sizes as well as the integration of an ERP system connection.

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