Intralogistics News from KION on the Topic of Automation

The KION Group’s transition from a hardware to a software company is clear to see in its research and development work in the field of automation processes for the intralogistics sector. Today’s end consumers are accustomed to fast delivery times, ideally on the same day. This demand for same-day deliveries requires faster speeds in the warehouse, fast and frictionless stock turnover, and shorter delivery times through faster dispatching. In addition, in urban areas there is less and less free space for warehouse operations, and therefore warehouses in large cities often have to make do with minimal space.

We offer all our customers a logistics automation solution that is tailored to their individual requirements. That might be an autonomous vehicle, or a fully automated high-rack warehouse, or a small, automated warehouse for urban environments where space is tight. Our solutions are scalable and can be easily expanded with additional modules. We therefore enable our customers to get the most out of automation solutions in their intralogistics operations, up to and including “lights-out” warehouses , which are fully automated warehouses that can, in theory, function perfectly without any light, because the processes run seamlessly without the need for physical human support. Modern distribution centers are high-tech masterpieces. They are the realm of robots controlled remotely by humans in control centers.

Automation in Logistics – Fully Automatic Racking Systems in the Warehouse

Automated racking systems and sorting systems are the KION Group’s answer to the increasing demand for speed and accuracy in (intra)logistics. There are many processes that can be automated in a warehouse, from the loading point and the digital pallet check at incoming goods to any transfer points and the conveyor with integrated scales for the package weight check shortly before dispatch. KION subsidiary Dematic integrates different racking systems into its complete solutions for automated logistics warehouses. It offers a wide selection of racks for industry , including shelving racks, pallet racks, long-span racking, cantilever racking, and specialized industrial racking. These systems optimize in-warehouse transportation and are suitable for pallets, containers, trays, crates, and boxes. The optimal utilization of the available warehouse space is another important requirement for intralogistics of the future.

Micro-Fulfillment Systems for Automated Warehouses When Space Is Limited

“Space” is an appropriate buzzword, given that there is often so little of it in large cities and conurbations for the construction of warehouses. The perfect solution in these instances is a “ micro-fulfillment system ,” as it offers two decisive advantages: It saves both time and space. On the one hand, it can process even complex online orders and shopping carts in a fully automatic manner within one hour or less. On the other hand, it requires only 900 m2 of space thanks to its compact design, and it can therefore be set up directly behind a retail store or supermarket or constructed as a separate micro-warehouse in urban environments. The immediate proximity to the end consumer and/or their pick-up point reduces the delivery time, thus increasing customer satisfaction as well as the profitability of online orders. For food retailers, the system can be adapted to accommodate different temperature zones , which is ideal when it comes to storage and order-picking for frozen products. In addition to being adaptable, the micro-fulfillment solution can also be networked with Dematic iQ software . This gives the customer complete control over the data for all stores, fulfillment and distribution centers, and ensures they can seamlessly integrate their new micro-fulfillment facility in the heart of a city into their existing warehouse management and enterprise resource planning systems.

Other Options for Automating Logistics: Driverless Transport Systems in the Warehouse

Driverless transport systems (“DTS” for short) are a growing market segment in which the KION Group is one of the world-leaders. Autonomous vehicles have many advantages: They help automate the material flow, from goods receipt to dispatch. Using software, the vehicles can be controlled, traffic regulations can be adapted, batteries can be monitored, and fleet capacity utilization can be checked and optimized. The safety of staff is of paramount importance in DTS, and therefore these vehicles are fitted with comprehensive safety systems. The challenge with driverless transport systems is often that different manufacturers use different control systems, which can lead to communication problems and thus also to collisions. In order to solve this problem, the KION Group is working together with their brand STILL , the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), and the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) on VDA 5050 – a new interface to improve communication between DTS and control software from different manufacturers.

The Lights-Out Warehouse – The Pinnacle of Intralogistics Automation

The KION Group offers everything their customers could possibly need: Industrial trucks that can communicate with each other , automated order pickers and storage systems, and integrated software solutions – all designed to make customers’ logistics chains more efficient, fast, and smart – not to mention adaptable to changing requirements in the future. A “l ights-out ” warehouse brings all these products – driverless vehicles, automatic racking systems, and robots – together. All warehouse operations are automated, meaning that the robots work while humans merely manage them. Machines and technology not only take on monotonous, standardized work steps, but also make their own decisions based on the data they have collected and their analysis capabilities. As a result, efficiency and speed are “automatically” improved. Plus a warehouse in which the lights are switched off or at least significantly dimmed can save energy.

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