Smart sensing for shuttle systems

29 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915400

ICT In Industry
Instrumentation, Measurement & Control
Materials Handling & Bulk Handling
Transport, Distribution & Logistics

THE volatility and competitiveness of markets in the e-commerce sector have caused somewhat of a conundrum in intralogistics.

On the one hand, increasing volumes of parcels need to be shipped necessitating increased order picking with associated processing. On the other hand, smaller orders cause growing uncertainty for the manufacturer or stockist and can impact forward planning. As a result, procurement, production and distribution become considerably more complex.

That’s according to Gerry Bryant, Managing Director of Countapulse Controls, who added that this scenario demands a high level of communication between all disciplines and makes the implementation of Industry 4.0 more important than ever for intralogistics. This, in turn, calls for smart sensing solution to be applied across the intralogistics field, allowing access to accurate information at all times.

Bryant said the modern shuttle solution has grown in popularity in intralogistics and in tandem with this the need for smart sensing solutions capable of providing the level of accuracy required in a fast-moving operation.

Smart sensing for shuttle systems

“The increasing using of shuttles makes sense as they are extremely flexible, dynamic and, not least, also resource-friendly with regard to space utilisation and energy consumption. For systems such as these, reliable, space saving sensors are needed for fine positioning, for the detection of free spaces, presence monitoring and for collision prevention.”

According to Bryant, Countapulse Controls, as the official southern African distributor of Leuze sensing solutions, offers a range of sensors capable of meeting the exacting requirements within this sector.

The high-end solutions can be configured to meet the operating parameters in individual applications in all areas of intralogistics, and the significant advantage of this is that the solution is from a single source.

Bryant gave as an example Leuze optical distance sensors which are used in shuttle systems for compartment occupation checks, collision protection or positioning applications. These smart sensors have a high tolerance to colour and material differences and offer precise surface and angle detection making for reliable operation.

He said these sensors function reliably even in changing environmental conditions or materials as well as with various object detection angles. This is particularly useful with objects that are not exactly aligned or that are being rapidly transported. As a result, detection errors are avoided, and complicated readjustment is eliminated.

Leuze optical distance sensors provide an IO-Link interface ensuring that diagnostic data is transferred in real time. This provides a timeous alert to any impending failure, for example excessive soiling of goods being handled or misalignment.

“In addition to these measuring distance sensors, miniaturised sensors, such as photoelectric sensors and light diffuse sensors, are ideal for use in shuttles. This is due to the limited available space and typically installed on the outer edge of the shuttle where overhang controls can be implemented simply but very effectively.”

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