For owners and builders of the machinery that keeps goods flowing in warehouses, the need for speed, flexibility, efficiency and reliability is now greater than ever. Paul Berry, Business Development Manager at Lenze, explains how to be smart when choosing components, technology platforms and providers to meet the challenge.
Here are some key factors driving warehouse businesses and their machine builders to expand and improve the automation of handling in intralogistics facilities, these include:
A drive and automation provider with strong experience in intralogistics will fully understand the differences in requirements between warehouse materials handling equipment and, say, packing and wrapping machines. Over-engineering with high-precision servo motor systems, for instance, is an unnecessary expense. Simpler approaches, using the increasing capabilities of conventional motors with modern inverter drives, or the Lenze Smart Motor can be much more cost-efficient.
For simplicity in driving conveyors, which require a fixed but adjustable speed with soft starts and stops, Lenze offers its Smart Motors range. These units combine motor, drive and gearbox together with specific integrated functions for materials handling, in a single adaptable package. Easy electronic pre-setting enables identical drives to perform at different speeds throughout the handling system. Drive and motor variants can be reduced by as much as 70 per cent, giving economies in purchasing, maintenance and spare parts stocking. Wiring is also simplified, as the electronic contactor, ramp settings and thermal protection are incorporated into the motor.
Motion software accounts for much of a materials-handling machine's cost. By using a technology partners fully developed, pre-configured and pre-tested software tools, instead of creating their own, builders can save time and money while avoiding errors and future compatibility issues. Easily programmed modules are already available for functions such as feeding, discharge, registration and SmartTrack product spacing.
Specialised materials-handling systems from Lenze include the storage and retrieval crane software tools within its FAST range. Their functionality enables: reduction in buffer-zone space requirements; safe retrieval when personnel are in adjacent aisles; faster direction changes; and less energy consumption. The result is higher productivity and lower costs.
If warehouse operations and machine builders are to benefit fully from Industry 4.0 and IIoT advances in communication and analytics, these technologies must be built in - not bolted on. The right drive and automation provider will support amongst others applications based on OPC-UA and MQTT.
The provider's data security technologies should permit confident sharing of machine information across wider networks. As well as enabling seamless integration with the warehouse operator's systems, this gives scope for the machine builder to add value with services like remote monitoring and support or predictive maintenance.
Rapid component availability is vital to delivering machines against increasingly tight lead times, so a good drive and automation provider should have fast manufacturing and distribution capabilities. For businesses replicating handling systems and technologies across global networks, an international service and technical support set-up is also needed.
Lenze believes that the best outcomes for machine builders and their end-customers are achieved through lasting support from a drive and automation partner - from concept to ongoing service. It follows a five-step process:
This approach ensures that automated warehouse systems are fast, agile, efficient and, above all, constantly available for productive action.
Learn more at www.lenze.com.