Efficient intralogistics: solutions to optimise end-of-line production flows

By Cristiana De Gasperin 2 years ago
Rendering impianto

Technowrapp and Intralogika work and complement one another in complete synergy and don’t just deal with final clients, but also seek to create solid partnerships with system integrators, companies that integrate the wrapping and handling solutions provided by Technowrapp and Intralogika into their own equipment.
One such case is that of an intralogistics and wrapping facility made in collaboration with TMC (Tissue Machinery Company) in 2018 and aimed at an important South American group which works in the tissue sector. TMC, an Italian company with twenty years’ experience in producing packaging machines for the tissue sector, turned to Technowrapp and Intralogika to integrate its own provision of palletising robots with a handling and wrapping solution for palletised products.
This line was created to manage and replenish four palletising areas, with a total output of 70 pallets an hour. The big challenge in this facility was managing to optimise the flow of load movements, managing the loading operations from 10 workstations and unloading from 6 workstations with a shuttle that can manage up to 642 different missions. 

Facility components

  • 4 palletising robots (supplied and managed by TMC)
  • 3 empty-pallet-feeding robots (supplied and managed by TMC)
  • 1 RGV shuttle with two pallets’ positions and a 30 metre track
  • 81 metres of conveyors
  • 9 hydraulic platforms (8 of which have compactors to centre the pallet)
  • 2 P60 rotating platform wrapping machines
  • 2 PLCs + 2 safety PLCs + 4 remote modules

Layout of the plant

Our approach
The heart of this intralogistics facility is the RGV shuttle, which is designed to carry out two main tasks.

  • Supplying the four palletising areas with empty pallets: the piles of 15 empty pallets are loaded from outside the line onto two conveyors, and are then loaded by the shuttle and moved to the palletising areas. The distances between the various conveyors entrances have been measured to allow the shuttle to simultaneously serve two palletising areas which are opposite one another (see blue arrows).
  • Moving palletised products from the palletising areas to the wrapping machines: in this case as well, the shuttle can position itself to simultaneously load two pallets from palletising areas that are opposite one another (see green arrows) and then move and unload the pallets in the two wrapping areas in the same way.

All the simultaneous tasks are thus handled by getting the distance right between lines that are opposite one another, and between which the shuttle can move to carry out loading or unloading tasks on two different lines at the same time, following a flow optimisation approach. All the software handling logic has been carefully researched by Intralogika to maximise efficiency and facility productivity. To obtain this goal, Intralogika has had to deal with the complexity of optimising loading operations from 10 workstations and unloading from 6 workstations, managing a large number of possible combinations of flow and tasks that have to be carried out.

The approach taken at this facility is further complicated by the fact that every palletising area receives the products from two different production lines: the product may thus be different (in content or format) and, most importantly, each line’s production level is different. It is thus impossible for the system to anticipate each line’s production level. To simplify this complexity, some measures have been adopted:

  • Buffer zones: 22 buffer zones are planned in the facility. These areas mean that palletised products await the arrival of the shuttle so as to not interrupt the work of the lines;
  • Constant exchange of information: the PLC constantly receives information from the palletising areas (number of full pallets waiting in the buffer zones, percentage of ongoing palletisation completion, number of empty pallets available for use in the palletising area), it then processes them and communicates by Wi-Fi to the shuttle the order in which tasks should be fulfilled, so as to correctly manage priorities and avoid leaving areas uncovered.

Finally, hydraulic platforms have been installed in the palletising areas which mean that the pallets can be raised or lowered during the palletising process. This is necessary to allow the palletiser to handle the significant height of the loads as well as possible (from 215 to 275 cm). The platforms raise empty pallets and after the palletiser has positioned the first layers of product, they lower them to allow the palletiser to finish the process.

Shuttle characteristics
Rails at floor level: these allow the operators to walk easily in the area crossed by the rails, and to move unobstructed with forklift trucks or transpallets.
Data transmission by Wi-Fi: the PLC and the shuttle communicate the information by Wi-Fi using a secure protocol, avoiding the use of cables and the need for cabling. The lack of cables also reduces the need for maintenance.
Blindosbarra: the shuttle is charged using a cable tray, thus avoiding the need to use festoon cables. That means that there is no need to use unsightly cables and, should the route of the shuttle have to be modified later, the cable tray will be seen to be a flexible tool, because of its modular nature.
Pressers on board the shuttle: to ensure safety while transporting tall pallets which have not yet been wrapped, the shuttle is equipped with two pressers that mean the product can be kept stable during transport, stopping it falling apart.
Moving conveyors on board the shuttle: when it is time to load or unload pallets, the conveyors on board the shuttle move to get close to the fixed conveyors on the ground, thus reducing the space between the shuttle and the conveyors. This is a measure that ensures that the load moves exactly as it should, ensuring that it doesn’t fall apart.
Safety: the entire facility was designed with maximum attention to the safety of the operators. Two safety PLCs handle both the automation and the safety of the facility and the shuttle is fitted with four laser scanners which detect the presence of operators inside the area within which the shuttle moves, and slow or stop it if the presence of humans is detected.

The partnership between TMC, Technowrapp and Intralogika has managed to bring together in this facility safety, efficiency and speed, turning a complex flow into an automatic system which is easy to use. Client satisfaction for the consultancy work and solution delivered make this facility one of the firm’s success stories.

  Case history
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