2021-05-26

One for All (Situations): the Dematic Conveyor ConfiKIT

The customer advisors at the KION brands Dematic, Linde Material Handling, and STILL know that every project is different. In many cases, the first step towards automation involves implementing conveyor technology to speed up the material flow at incoming goods or in dispatch. And this is where sister company Dematic comes in. To enable the KION brands to implement customer requirements even faster and in an even more personalized way in the future, together with the KION Digital Campus the three brands have jointly developed the “Dematic Conveyor ConfiKIT,” an app that makes configuring the conveyor line at the customer’s site a piece of cake.

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For many people, when they hear the word “automation,” they think of the large-scale projects implemented by well-known companies that you read about in exciting articles in specialist publications and on LinkedIn. In actual fact, automation has long been a part of everyday life at small and medium-sized companies. Even if their operations are not automated on a large scale, many medium-sized companies are looking for intermediate solutions that will enable them to automate repetitive processes in a simple way. This might take the form of a few meters of conveyor technology that could ease the strain in goods incoming, in the pre-storage zone, or between production and dispatch.

The KION brands are working closely together to develop the best possible solution here for their individual customers. “The intralogistics solutions from Linde Material Handling and STILL do not just include the core business of manual and automated industrial trucks. Stationary elements such as small stretches of conveyor technology, which we can also offer our customers, are additionally required for comprehensive customer solutions,” explains Noë van Bergen, automated solutions expert in KION’s forklift segment. Back in 2019, the three KION brands, Linde Material Handling, STILL, and Dematic, identified that there is great deal of potential here to take collaboration and added value for customers to the next level. This led to their search for a suitable way of streamlining the sometimes lengthy processes required for coordination across the brands in relation to conveyor technology.

A Digital Tool That Everyone Can Benefit From

“The inquiries that Dematic was receiving from within the Group relating to conveyors up to this point were reasonably comparable in terms of the scale involved. The conveyor lines were rather small and relatively straightforward, and the majority of the effort revolved around our internal processes and the sheer volume of inquiries,” explains Rainer Buchmann, SVP and Managing Director for Dematic Central Europe. So Dematic took the initiative and brought together both sales specialists from Linde Material Handling and STILL, and software developers from KION DIGITAL Campus. “Our goal was to create an intuitive solution that would simplify the process of planning a conveyor line and creating quotations,” says Buchmann, who led the project from the beginning. By joining forces, the KION brands and the Digital Campus developed the Dematic Conveyor ConfiKIT (an abbreviated form of “Conveyor Configuration Kit”) in a matter of months. The new app benefits all sides. The KION brands benefit from improved collaboration with less work for all parties and the customers benefit from better advice and much faster processes during the implementation of their projects.

Easier Than Planning a Kitchen at a Well-Known Swedish Furniture Store

The working title for the new tool was “3S—simple, smart, scalable” and the cross-brand project team and the Digital Campus certainly saw to it that the tool fulfilled this brief. The customer advisors can use the app on their laptop or tablet while at the customer’s site to put together a conveyor system that is precisely tailored to the requirements of the individual operation. A well thought out menu design guides the user through key questions for each project: How big are the pallets? How delicate are the goods that are to be transported? How big is the storage space? What are the environmental conditions? Once all the relevant boxes have been checked, the planning tool opens. Various modules can be put together at this stage, in any combination—from the loading point and the digital pallet check at incoming goods to any transfer points and the conveyor with integrated scale for the package weight check shortly before dispatch. “The direction of the material flow on the conveyor technology is clearly illustrated by means of arrows and the tool does not allow unsuitable combinations of modules,” explains Buchmann. “This guarantees that the individual plans can also be implemented later exactly as designed.” Once the planning process is complete, the desired conveyor line can be easily displayed in a 3D view with just one click and presented to the customer. If everything meets the customer’s expectations, the ConfiKIT then generates a quotation in the blink of an eye, including transport and assembly costs if desired, a process which used to take several days. “In this way, we are not only making the planning process much easier for the sales consultants at STILL and Linde Material Handling, but we have also carved out a significant time advantage,” says Buchmann, summing up the benefits. “The new tool plays a key role in making Dematic’s expertise available to colleagues from the forklift segment in a fast, intuitive, and competitive way,” adds van Bergen.

Achieving Goals Even Faster Using Modular Building Blocks

The improved planning and quotation process alone creates a time saving of around four weeks, but even the processes of assembly and commissioning on site will be able to happen much more quickly in the future. As part of the Conveyor ConfiKIT project, Dematic has adapted the product portfolio to conveyor belts and has developed a building block, or a kit, made up of standardized modules, which is the perfect complement to the digital tool. What makes the individual elements unique is that specific components are already pre-assembled so the conveyor just has to be fitted together at the customer’s site. This helps to significantly speed up the installation processes on-site even further and means that customers can benefit the automated solution even sooner.

The Dematic Conveyor ConfiKIT is just one example of a successful collaboration with great potential. The app demonstrates how the KION brands can achieve even more for their customers by working together and how smart digital tools are paving the way in the long term for automation to progress in both large and small applications.

AGV Mesh-Up: Joint interface for different driverless transport systems.

Getting things moving