Solutions for intelligent motion systems

27 June 2016

Industry 4.0 will soon start to place greater demands on sensors, which have a increasingly important role to play. This is already starting to be seen in intralogistics applications.

Modern automated shuttle transport systems reflect many of the future challenges for industry. They offer an answer to the key trends for greater throughput, agility and flexibility as well as offering more efficient utilisation of space and more sustainable use of resources. However, they also highlight the growing demand being placed on sensor systems and automation components for smaller yet more powerful devices networked in line with the principles of Industry 4.0.

While seamless networking is only just starting to emerge in many business sectors, systems designed according to the principles of Industry 4.0 can already be found in the intralogistics sector where it is being employed to improve speed, precision, flexibility and availability, transparency at every process step and it is here that innovative shuttle solutions are finding applications for conveying and storage systems.

“Regardless of whether shuttles are implemented on conveyor lines or in high-bay warehouses or whether conventional high-bay storage devices, continuous conveyors, cranes or driverless transportation systems are used – up to the point of order picking the applications are very similar, with regard to the functions that sensors are required to perform,” said Wolfgang Peisker, head of industry sales Intralogistics at Leuze electronic. The presence of goods or system parts must be detected; compartment occupation checks or clearance monitoring must be carried out; volumes, fill levels, stack heights or overhangs must be detected; and various types of working areas and transportation paths must be safeguarded. Importantly data also needs to be transferred.

Growing demands
“The growing demands that intralogistics applications place on sensors are particularly evident in modern shuttle solutions,” said Peisker. Shuttles are flexible, dynamic and resource-friendly with regard to space utilisation and energy consumption. They can be used in various areas of material flow or storage systems and can handle different loads. At the same time, they are able to perform a high number of storage and retrieval operations within a short period of time. For fast and flexible shuttles, reliable, space-saving and safe sensors are needed for fine positioning, the detection of free spaces, presence monitoring and for collision prevention.

Examples of smart sensor solutions that meet the demand for dynamics, precision and flexibility but that are also compact and include the 10 series optical distance sensors from Leuze electronic. A high object tolerance to colour, material, surface and detection angle makes the measuring (ODS 10) and switching (HT 10) distance sensors reliable and precise. Whether working with organic surfaces such as wood, metal or plastics and whether matt, deep black or glossy, the sensors are able to maintain constant switching point.

The working range of these distance sensors begins at 50mm and extends to 8,000mm. When used against a reflective tape, it is said to be possible to achieve scanning range limits of up to 25m. Large operating and teach buttons, as well as the OLED display, facilitate step-by-step commissioning and diagnosis of the ODS 10 at the press of a button. The highly visible status displays on the top and front make it easy to check the status from a distance or in restricted access areas. Both models also provide an IO-Link interface ready for Industry 4.0. This allows diagnostic data to be transferred so that, by means of constant monitoring of the received signal level, the user can be alerted in good time to an impending failure.

These distance measuring sensors are used in shuttle applications primarily for compartment occupation checks, collision protection or positioning applications. Other compact sensing solutions for shuttles could include the 2 and 3B series photoelectric sensors and diffuse sensors from Leuze electronic. As a result, overhang controls very close to the outer edge can be simply implemented using LSR 2 throughbeam photoelectric sensors or PRK 2 retro-reflective photoelectric sensors. Both devices have large operating ranges as well as high function reserves. Measuring only 23.1 x 12 x 8mm, these sensors are smaller than a matchbox.

The 3B series sensors from Leuze electronic also have a compact design, have a range of features and a large selection of functions as well as high operating ranges and improved function reserves for reliable object detection, even in dusty environments or with high mounting tolerances. Technologies such as A2LS active extraneous and active ambient light suppression, brightVision for simple handling and fast commissioning are features of the series. In shuttles, PRK 3B retro-reflective photoelectric sensors or HRT 3B diffuse sensors are often used at the end of aisles or for reference runs in order to precisely detect reference points using scanning or reflective technology.

Leuze electronic offers a range of products for every application field in intralogistics. These include automation components such as bar code readers, bar code positioning systems and data transmission photoelectric sensors. Bar code readers, such as the BCL 648i offer high resolution and simple handling. They use blue laser light which enables 50% greater depth of field compared to conventional scanners with red laser light. This makes them less sensitive to variations in distance to the object to be detected. Often, manual focus adjustment is unnecessary in applications with varying distances. Bar code positioning systems such as BPS 348i enable precise and continuous positioning over distances of up to 10km. Moreover, with their operating range of ±60mm they are tolerant to mechanical variations. Optical data transmission photoelectric sensors are the right choice for any application where data needs to be transmitted over long distances without cables and without interference. Devices such as the DDLS 500i enable contact-free and wear-free optical communication wherever mechanical systems are pushed to their technical limitations. With optical real-time 100?Mbit/sec, all common data protocols can be transmitted without time delay over a distance of up to 200m.

“Communication is an Industry 4.0 buzzword that is becoming increasingly relevant in the area of intralogistics,” said Peisker.Leuze electronic has been equipping many of its sensors with industrial interfaces such as Profibus, Profinet, Ethernet IP or IO-Link to enable process information to be transferred and to provide elegant configuration possibilities and deliver diagnostic data. This data enables prefailure messages to be issued to allow weak points in the system or device to be detected early. As a result, systems can be maintained more efficiently and in a more targeted manner, and unscheduled downtimes can be avoided.

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