Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have become indispensable in the modern logistics world. “Automation is increasingly finding its way into our warehouses and production halls – in all sectors and in all processes,” says Florian Kratzer, International Key Account Manager Automated Solutions. AGVs impress above all with their individuality and speed with which they automatically transport materials. But to make these AGVs suitable for the mass market, a uniform interface is needed, such as the VDA 5050.
A uniform interface is the only way to control and coordinate trucks across manufacturers. “At STILL, we believe that a standardised interface will be essential in the future in order to continue to serve the needs of our customers,” adds Kratzer.
The solution is provided by the standardised VDA 5050 communication interface. With its support, order management or traffic management of heterogeneous fleets, for example, can be standardised within a single user interface. The performance of the interface was demonstrated, among other things, during the AGV Mesh-Up events under the auspices of the VDMA Materials Handling and Intralogistics Association.
STILL had already participated in this event last year, which took place as part of the IFOY Test Camp, and together with various manufacturers demonstrated how a wide range of driverless transport vehicles can communicate with each other via the VDA 5050 interface, navigate safely and efficiently in a common area and complete transport tasks in a network. “During this test event last year, we very successfully integrated vehicles from different manufacturers with very different navigation technologies and transport capabilities into a homogeneous unit under the control system of the KION Group, to which STILL also belongs,” says the STILL expert.
AGVs leaving the niche
Successful demonstrations such as the AGV Mesh-Up show that driverless transport systems will no longer be niche solutions in the future, but suitable for the mass market. Kratzer: “STILL has the vision of bringing automated solutions to the general public. This will enable us to cater for long-term, high-volume customer enquiries that require large automated fleets.”
By adapting the group’s internal control system software for AGVs as well as the vehicle-integrated software to the VDA 5050 interface, STILL also wants to consolidate its competence to be able to integrate other suppliers’ products into its system as well as to offer series-produced AGVs that can be integrated into other suppliers’ control systems via the VDA 5050, such as those of the software manufacturer SYNAOS.
Partnership with SYNAOS
The fact that VDA 5050 is not only used at events and for demonstration purposes is made evident by the partnership that STILL has entered into with the innovative software manufacturer SYNAOS. This cooperation not only serves to implement and roll out state-of-the-art automation projects in practice, but above all to offer customers the opportunity to choose both the software and the hardware themselves and to bring the two together individually – exactly what the VDA 5050 promises.
Dr Wolfgang Hackenberg, CEO & Co-Founder of SYNAOS: “We are very happy to add STILL, another strong brand, to our international partner network. Our Intralogistics Management Platform SYNA.OS LOGISTICS has supported the VDA 5050 interface from the very beginning. Today, we manage numerous customer implementations on this basis. Through the partnership, our customers will benefit several times over, because they can individually select their hardware and software for the realisation of their intralogistics processes and significantly increase their efficiency. We look forward to joint projects with STILL.”
Florian Kratzer: “The standardised VDA 5050 communication interface will make processes even more secure and simple. As a responsible manufacturer, we will therefore continue to actively take part in this process – also in the interest of our customers – and actively support it.”