Material Logistic Solutions for Smart Manufacturing

A complete solution from Asys was voted third place in the Industry 4.0 Innovation Award 2021. It comprises smart hardware and software solutions that monitor and control autonomous material flows on the entire shop floor. The aim is to maximize the degree of automation in production.

This has also convinced one of Germany’s largest automotive suppliers, which is relying on Asys’ Material Logistics and PulsePro solutions for its projects for the third time now.

Asys’ fully automated solution starts at the goods reception: The MSL01 scan & label system automatically receives material, such as SMD component reels, and replaces manual processes. The material is marked with a customer UID label and automatically fed to the warehouse. This can be a central warehouse as well as automatic warehouses close to production, such as the ASYS DryTower or the ASYS Material Warehouse.

Intelligent, centralized storage solutions

The DryTower is a modular storage system for SMD component reels and Jedec-Trays. Thanks to the connection to higher-level systems, autonomous material handling is possible without operator intervention. The system features a sophisticated and proven drying technology. Active back-drying of moisture-sensitive MSL components is supported and a regulated storage environment is created. All relevant data of the component processing, starting with the storage of the components in the system up to the removal for production, is documented.

The Material Warehouse provides a smart storage environment for PCB magazines and other materials in KLT boxes. It works according to the chaotic storage principle. Thanks to clear labeling, the stored goods are fully traceable and can be retrieved at any time. To meet MSD requirements, it is possible to adjust the humidity accordingly.

Fully autonomous – from warehouse to line and from goods reception to goods issue

If material replenishment is required in production, the Asys Pulse Pro software suite automatically creates picking lists as needed and triggers material replenishment. Manual and/or autonomous transport, for example with driverless transport systems or hand trucks, delivers the material to the production lines as required.

Asys has both Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) and trolleys for this in its product range. The AMRs act as autonomous transport robots using the slam principle. This means that they navigate freely in space via sensor technology and it is not necessary to attach guidelines in the production area. The transport containers required for automatic material handling, such as magazines or containers for printed circuit boards, component reels or trays, are part of the overall solution. The Asys trolleys support ergonomic, manual transport of material and are available in two dimensions to provide a universal platform for different materials and container dimensions.

Intermediate or finished products can always be buffered. This makes it possible to decouple individual process steps. Obsolete material is also taken into account and distributed autonomously and/or manually to the various storage locations. Asys provides M-Stations for intermediate storage: These are modular roller conveyor systems that can flexibly buffer PCB magazines, reel containers, KLT boxes or trays. 

The materials are recorded at each process step, so that the stocks are always kept up to date and the location of the circulating material and the capacities of the various storage locations can be seen.

Everything at a glance thanks to networked software solutions

Dashboards throughout the production area inform and support the operator visually. They provide direct access to relevant manufacturing data. The operator interfaces of the software modules from the Pulse Pro software suite offer various display options for KPIs such as number of picks, WIP and more.

The software suite offers a total of seven software modules. These help to control automated material flows on the shop floor, to achieve dynamic just-in-time supply for each manufacturing step and to track all data flows. Pulse Pro thus closes the gap between the shopfloor and the higher-level MES and ERP systems. The Material Locator app, for example, receives the demand messages for material from the placement systems.

Based on this information and the order planning data, the Component Manager app determines the material flow of the components in advance. The Line Observer app visualizes this demand for the operator. The visualization is prioritized according to the available remaining time of the respective component roll: The currently highest-priority component roll is now clearly visualized to the operator at the M-station via the pick-by-light function and the operator can retrofit the correct component roll on the line in a targeted manner and via direct access, thus acting even more efficiently. Pulse Pro interposes itself between existing systems and thereby supplements the functions that are not yet or only partially taken into account. Due to the modular and scalable concept, integration can take place in several steps if desired.

Optimized manufacturing processes throughout

Thanks to the continuous recording of material movements and stock changes, savings and optimizations can be achieved with regard to the stock on the shop-fl oor. At the same time, storage space is reduced and productive space is created. All inventories are visualized decentrally so that operators have direct access to the material they need when they need it, without search and travel times. The goal is to reduce stress-related errors and maximize process reliability. The modular and scalable solution from Asys offers fl exible deployment in the customer-specific process and can thus be implemented in a targeted manner with an optimal Return on Investment (ROI).

Concept approved 

The example of a German automotive supplier shows how this can work in actual practice. It was aiming for a higher degree of automation in order to save costs and strengthen the location. The final material logistics concept envisages that future component rolls will no longer be touched by employees between storage and actual use on the assembly line. After the repackaging of the component rolls has been opened, they are automatically booked into the ERP system and fed into the system.

For this purpose, the automotive supplier uses the goods reception solution by Asys with the fully automatic scan & label station MSL01. A component counter counts the existing components on a roll and feeds exact values into the production database. Even component rolls that have been prepared are automatically fed in here, which ensures a valid and coordinated process. In the Dry Tower, the component rolls are stored fully automatically at a relative humidity of less than 5%. Driverless transport systems are used to implement autonomous process sequences.

The material flow is calculated and coordinated via Pulse Pro. Using the integrated Advanced Order Planner, the production orders from the ERP system can be automatically distributed optimally to the SMT production lines according to various criteria. As a result, the company reduces its material stocks on the line. At the same time, material availability in production is increased. Ultimately, this saves costs.

Learn more about the ASYS solutions at ASYS Group Technology Days: