Thursday 11 February 2010

Warehouse automated handling

Holding and moving heavy metal tubes is not an easy task for automation engineers. Holding and moving heavy metal tubes... in narrow rows of automated warehouses... at high speed... is even... worse! Tecnorulli decided to go wireless for such types of applications.

The wireless option faced issues due to the environment itself (everything is made of metal in the warehouse) and more over, the moving parts, the carriages which are navigating through the aisles for depositing and/or taking material from the shelves and rows, are themselves made of metal. In short, the RF environment is some of the worst you can imagine for robust, safe, and reliable wireless applications. Nevertheless, they wanted to overcome the challenge and decided to go wireless , with one objective: improve quality and response time to better serve their customers. ProSoft Technology's RadioLinx industrial radios were the key to resolving the communications difficulties Tecnorulli was facing in its automated warehouse.

The Italian company Tecnorulli is a leading manufacturer of rollers and machinery for conveyors. Located in Verona, Tecnorulli has been producing rollers and machinery for conveyors for 35 years . Constant technological development and fast, timely response to its customers´ needs, and great production flexibility are the mainstays of Tecnorulli corporate strategy. To that end, an automated warehouse handling system was crucial for the global performance.

Over time they have gradually acquired the experience and specific expertise that have brought it to the top in that trade sector. In fact, the company produces both machinery designed to withstand the harshest working conditions (quarries, mines, marble working industries, sugar factories, salt works, road-building machinery, foundries, cement factories, etc.) and also high technology products used in the most modern automated factories (mechanical conveyor lines, bottling plant, packaging, pallet loading, pharmaceuticals, chemical industry, etc.). Tecnorulli also manufactures clutched and idle wheel rollers, which are specially designed to ensure reliable working even under extremely hostile conditions. Its offer is completed by its PVC and polyamide series of products which, for medium-light loads, combine great flexibility of application, complete non-toxicity, silence and absence of sparks, with the resistance to atmospheric agents typical of galvanised steel rollers.

The importance of communications

As the warehouse automation involved moving chariots, an industrial radio communication system was necessary. After an unsuccessful attempt with a previous option, Tecnorulli found a reliable solution with ProSoft Technology: "As you can imagine, production downtime is a big problem in our business," Tecnorulli plant Supervisors explain. "For a long time we have been struggling with a problem in our automated raw materials warehouse. We had to transport metal tubes in a perfectly safe way. We contacted ProSoft Technology to see if we could bring in industrial radios. Their partner in Italy, ATTI, based near Perugia in Ponte San Giovanni, installed the radios and the issue was very quickly solved."

"Our problem was that we were unable to get the two machines in the warehouse to interface properly. We had problems connecting these two machines, but thanks to the use of ProSoft Technology RLX-FHS radios we were able to solve the issue and eliminate warehouse blockages. We haven´t had any more problems since we installed the ProSoft industrial radios and the workflow has undoubtedly benefited."

"To help our customer in their choice, we may in some case lent them the industrial radios for a month in order for them to see first-hand that our solution would perfectly fit with their needs," explains Giuseppe Vencesclai, CEO of ATTI.

Ease of use and reliability
In this case, three ProSoft Technology RLX-FHS radios were installed in Tecnorulli warehouse. These radios are designed to reduce the costs of engineering and installing serial (in this case, but could be Ethernet) networks for industrial automation in the most difficult environments, such as a warehouse for metal parts.

"Our customers use to report that ProSoft Technology´s wireless solutions offer very high reliability and are very easy to implement," explains Aurélien Fabre, Business Development Manager for Italy at ProSoft Technology, "and these solutions largely contribute to great return on investment."

This new generation of industrial radios is extremely easy to use and ProSoft Technology particularly worked on the sensitivity of the receivers and the filtering algorithms. End users can thus count on more effective operation in environments where the levels of interference are high and they can also set the radios a greater distance apart.

With the ProSoft Technology Frequency Hopping radios (FHSS), data transfer rates between serial interface devices range from 19.2 Kbps to 230 Kbps (up to 3,000 Mbps for Ethernet version). These RadioLinx radios operate in the 2.4 GHz or 900 MHz frequency bandwidths (depending on country regulation). The frequency-hopping technology of these radios gives wireless networks a very high level of security, almost total immunity to interference and a very wide range (5-10 km in Europe, and up to 24 or 48 km in North America, according to authorized emitted power which depends on country regulation).

ControlScape, an easy-to-use software application handling network configuration and advanced troubleshooting, is supplied free of charge by ProSoft Technology. This software monitors variables such as signal force, data transmitted, number of networks connected, etc., to help end users install and maintain their own network.

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