The following case study describes the automation of a typical warehouse, where product sorting and shipping to designated destinations in the distribution network takes place.
Warehouse Automation – case study
Before implementing the system, all operations were performed manually, which was associated with longer order fulfillment times and increased the risk of losing a package or mixing up orders.
To keep up with customer demands and shorten waiting times for shipments, the investor decides to automate the transport and sorting of products in their warehouse. Our scope in such a project usually includes electrical design, procurement, prefabrication of cabinets, PLC and SCADA programming, integration with the higher-level IT system, and installation and commissioning of the control system on-site.
Fig. 1. Merging point
The installation usually includes several warehouse halls and a sorting area. Products, for example, in boxes, are transported automatically from all halls to the sorting area, where they are assigned to specific destinations on the sorter. The control system reads the barcode attached to the box and, based on the available data, sends the box to the appropriate destination. The control system is integrated with the higher-level WMS/WCS system, so the PLC controller knows where to send the package after scanning its code. The flow of products is controlled with full tracking.
Fig. 2. Tracking
Automating the transport and control system significantly increases system throughput and reduces the number of errors. Additionally, the comfort of warehouse employees handling the products is improved. Products are moved and sorted automatically, rather than manually as before.
After defining the requirements for the system, we prepare the FDS (Functional Design Specification) document, which describes the assumptions for the control system in detail. The document contains:
- a description of the elements that the system will consist of, both mechanical and control system components,
- a description of the products that will be transported, dimensions, weight etc.
- the required system throughput,
- drawings and schematics of the transport lines,
- system operation scenarios and responses to exceptional situations,
- tasks for the system operators,
- a description of the safety systems and their operation,
- a project implementation schedule.
After creating the FDS document, we move on to the hardware and software implementation. We carry out purchases, cabinet prefabrication, and start writing the software.
Fig. 3. Induction point
After writing the software, we create a 3D installation emulation and virtually check the correctness of our written software. Then, we organize a FAT meeting for our client and conduct a virtual start-up. The PLC controller and SCADA system connected to the virtual object realize the programmed algorithms. Thanks to this, we minimize possible errors before going for a physical installation.
Fig. 4. Decision point
After the FAT meeting, we move on to work on the installation site. First, we start with electrical work, including the installation of control cabinets. Then, we proceed to the system start-up. We carry out tests and acceptance of the installation, as well as provide training for the system operators.
In the field of intralogistics, we have already completed dozens of projects. We possess extensive knowledge and vast experience in such systems.
Usually, our scope includes electrical design, procurement, cabinet prefabrication, PLC and SCADA programming, integration with the higher-level IT system, installation, and start-up at the facility. Despite the difficult market situation related to the availability of parts, we have completed all previous projects on time.
After completing the start-up, we remain at our client’s disposal within the warranty and service.