BMW Plant Dingolfing – Smart Transport Robots And Tugger Trains. 0:00 – 1:47 Mini Smart Transport Robot (Mini STR)
1:49 – 4:21 Mini Automated Tugger Train
4:24 – Smart Transport Robot (STR)
Autonomous transport systems such as tugger trains or Smart Transport Robots are increasingly used to transport goods within production halls.
To allow tugger trains to now also be used for the sophisticated process of supplying assembly lines, as part of a pilot project, BMW Group Plant Dingolfing has developed an automation kit, which enables conventional tugger trains of any brand already on hand to be upgraded to autonomous tugger trains. The capabilities of these driverless tugger trains go beyond automation of earlier solutions.
Another future technology is also being piloted alongside autonomous tugger trains at the Dingolfing plant. A Smart Watch supports logistics staff during the container change process and announces approaching tugger trains via a vibration alarm. The employee can also read which containers should be unloaded and send the tugger train on to its next destination by tapping the display.
The BMW Group is also pioneering the use of autonomous transport systems outdoors. As part of a pilot project, the BMW Group is using an autonomous outdoor transport robot for the first time at its Leipzig plant to bring truck trailers from where they are parked to the unloading and loading bay on their own. A mobile platform drives underneath the trailer, connects it and steers it through the plant. The so-called AutoTrailer, with a payload of up to 30 tons, navigates by laser, without additional guidelines or markings, through the plant’s outdoor areas. Sensors and cameras provide a 360° all-round view, which forms the basis of the safety concept.
The huge potential of this transport system is particularly evident at the BMW Group’s largest plant in Spartanburg, where about 1,200 of these trailer-shunting manoeuvres take place every day.
Back in 2015, the BMW Group joined forces with the Fraunhofer Institute IML to develop the first self-driving Smart Transport Robots (STR) for transporting roll containers through logistics areas within production halls. The second generation is now in operation at BMW Group Plant Regensburg. The flat robots carry roll containers weighing up to one ton and transport them autonomously to where the goods need to be. They calculate the ideal route independently and move freely through space. A built-in battery module from the BMW i3 powers the STR for a whole work shift.
After delivery to the plant, the goods are transported to the assembly line in containers and parts containers of various sizes. For the tiring job of reloading containers from pallets onto conveyor belts or into storage, employees will be assisted in the future by logistics robots specially developed for this purpose. Four different types of robots, referred to as “Bots” by logistics experts, are currently being tested or have already been integrated into series production.
The lightweight robots take on different jobs: they can take full plastic boxes from the pallet in the incoming goods area and place them on a conveyor system, they do unload tugger trains and place boxes loaded with goods on a shelf, they collect various small parts from appropriate supply racks and they stack empty containers on pallets before they re-enter circulation.
Using artificial intelligence, the robots can detect and process various different containers and determine the ideal grip point.
Gloves with integrated scanners and displays, data glasses and smart watches are increasingly used to support logistics employees. The transition to paperless logistics, with digitally labelled containers and shelves, opens up new areas of application for mobile devices. Glove scanners read the electronic label and indicate the exact contents of the small load carrier on a small display that can be worn on the arm.