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Connectivity and integration at all levels


Interview with Dr Kai Beckhaus, Head of Market and Sales Management, Jungheinrich Logistics Systems.

The establishment of a standalone division for our logistics systems business was an important step for Jungheinrich. Our range of offerings was expanded through the acquisition of the MIAS Group in 2015 – one of the world’s leading stacker crane providers. These offerings now range from warehouse equipment and laser-navigated system vehicles to driverless transport systems and fully automated warehouse technology including numerous digital solutions. Does this mean the manually operated forklift is on its way out?

Dr Beckhaus: »No, the manually operated forklift will continue to have its place and co-exist with automated systems. Even if there is a slight shift in the direction of greater automation, there will always be applications for manual solutions because they are reasonably priced and not complex. Automation isn’t new. The first driverless transport systems came into being back in the Seventies. They were however quite simple, rigid and inflexible. The modern Auto Pallet Movers from Jungheinrich are fitted with laser scanners and sensors and offer a high level of safety, process security and reliability. Compared with the technology back then, they have a high degree of complexity.

The semi-automated solutions and assistance systems to aid the operator are less complex. In part they facilitate enormous improvements in efficiency and a high degree of ergonomics. Jungheinrich offers the customer the solutions he needs, all from a single provider.«

In Industry 4.0 machines are connected with IT systems and can communicate with each other. How far along is Jungheinrich on the topic of connectivity in intralogistics?

Dr Beckhaus: »Connectivity is essential for utilising the potential of Intralogistics 4.0. Jungheinrich’s award-winning Logistics Interface represents a flexible IT solution which connects vehicles and warehouse equipment with the Warehouse Management System (WMS). The Logistics Interface is a kind of middleware – a translator, if you will – since machines and systems often don’t speak the same language and as a result cannot communicate with each other. This way we are creating the ideal integration of the warehouse management system and the basis for the smart factory – either with Jungheinrich WMS, our entry-level WMS »Series 2« or with the customer’s existing IT system.«

For what kind of companies is the topic of connectivity relevant? Can large enterprises or specific industries benefit from it?

Dr Beckhaus: »Connectivity is going to triumph at all levels. This is independent of the sector of industry, and it is interesting for small, medium and large-sized enterprises, which often want to automate in stages. We notice this with our customers, who want to get ready for Industry 4.0 and thus decide in favour of an intralogistics provider who offers opportunities for connectivity and has the corresponding Industry 4.0 expertise. Integrated solutions and smart assistance systems are the wave of the future. The benefits for the user are at the forefront.

A good application example is our liftNAVIGATION – the semi-automated lift height pre-selection for reach trucks. The data regarding the approach route to the right storage location are transmitted directly from the WMS to the vehicle terminal and from there directly to the reach truck’s control system. While the operator now only needs to drive to the right floor position in front of the rack, the fork is automatically lifted to the right storage compartment. The operator is further supported by our warehouseNAVIGATION assistance system for narrow-aisle vehicles, which approaches even the horizontal position semi-automatically. We have already equipped more than 1,000 vehicles with this option, which saves our customers time when storing and retrieving goods while offering a high degree of process security. Equipping these customers for a fully automated solution subsequently is easier in such cases, since the vehicles are already connected with the WMS system.«

What special highlights can CeMAT visitors expect at the Jungheinrich booth – stand no. P33/P34 – under the EXPO canopy?

Dr Beckhaus: »To begin with, the visitor will be able to see and experience all three categories – from purely manual stackers to semi-automated solutions and then fully automated systems. In the area of logistics systems we will be showing several innovations involving digitisation and integration at Pavilion 33. Visitors there should be sure to take in our new easyPILOT order picking assistance system, which is being shown in a showcase together with our new ECE horizontal order picker. This semi-automated solution works with a new remote control which can be worn in a belt holster and can put the vehicle in motion at the touch of a few buttons. The system is available in two versions and can be connected with the WMS to allow the vehicle to approach the next picking position automatically. We will also be featuring a pilot project showing the application in connection with the use of data glasses. The advantage of easyPILOT is that the user has his hands free for order picking and can save the time which is normally consumed by the need to continually mount and dismount the vehicle. This solution also underscores how people are an important part of Intralogistics 4.0. But to fully exploit the potential of this new technology, we need connectivity and integration with the WMS system. Visitors to CeMAT 2016 can view and test our order picking showcase at our test course – along with our specially highlighted product, the EKX 516 tri-lateral forklift.

In Pavilion 34 we are highlighting the entire range of logistics systems – from racking systems to APM and even the planning and implementation of turnkey logistics centres.«

Further information that could be interesting:
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