Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are becoming increasingly attractive. As a result of the desire for resilience and consistent flexibility, ‘Autonomous Mobile Robots’ (AMR) are moving into focus. However, the parallel operation of different AGVs/AMRs is critical, as for example, systems do not exchange sensor and position data.

Many warehouse operators want to be able to use driverless systems of different makes together in a meaningful way. Thus, for example, the guideline 5050 of the VDA was initiated. Here, the focus is on standardizing communication in order to support the coordination of vehicles. The approach of standardizing interfaces to individual components, such as AGVs, is the next step towards flexible full integration. Success at this point would fall on fertile ground – especially since some intralogistics material flow systems, such as that of the software manufacturer Dr. Thomas und Partner (TUP), are already very successful in coupling different material flow trades.

Optimization of warehouse tasks in real time

In cases of complex warehouse applications, material flow systems serving as central management meet today’s requirements in terms of scalability, performance and flexibility. As a higher-level system, they are able to fully support the processes in a distribution center and make it possible to meet the demand for permanent optimization. TUP also follows this holistic approach, which is accompanied by certain advantages: It is possible to communicate with different types of resources in real time and to control and monitor transport tasks dynamically.

TUP thus set the course at an early stage for a resource management system that is also capable of scalable growth in today’s world: The functionality of the TUP.MFC material flow computer goes beyond the mere source-drain handling of transport tasks. The system can not only control automated warehouse techniques, but also optimize manual warehouse tasks in real time at the same time. Mixed operation of different AGV concepts and manufacturers is already possible, but is still very time-consuming and costly to implement due to the specific interfaces in each case. Too costly for implementation. Due to the lack of a central coordination instance, each parallel-running system records its own environmental data and goes through its own decision-making processes. The mutual lack of knowledge has a negative effect on the required key figures and speeds of the transports, which is why mixing is currently still being avoided.

Fully integrated or standalone solution

Fully integrated or standalone solution

As a software manufacturer, TUP always develops software solutions for the individual application. In doing so, great importance is attached to flexible use. Thus, the individually adapted material flow computer can be connected both as a fully integrated component of a warehouse management system (WMS) and as a stand-alone solution for transport management under a higher-level third-party WMS. TUP.MFC offers optimized dynamic route planning, which makes it possible to react to changing conditions in real time. Intervention in transport tasks is performed automatically or manually by the control center. The current operating states of the entire intralogistics system are analyzed and the most efficient routes for active industrial trucks are determined in real time based on the utilization of all system resources. In this way, source-drain models can be replaced by dynamic planning adapted to the order situation. There is no limit to the type and number of connected resources – not only including AGV.
That way nothing stands in the way of heterogeneous scalability.

This article appeared in issue 4 (May) 2021 of the german trade magazine ‘dhf Intralogistik’ . A PDF of the publication can be found here (German).

Picture: ©romaset/