New self-drive lift truck solutions from Hyster Europe have been introduced with the aim of enabling the automotive supply chain to introduce ‘affordable automation’ for repetitive handling tasks.
Intelligent Hyster trucks can help support Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, through reliable consistency, with the flexibility of manual use to perform additional tasks and support the ‘unexpected’.
“Repetitive lift truck tasks can be unnecessarily expensive,” says Tracy Brooks, Industry Solutions Group Manager for Hyster Europe. “The automotive industry has been adopting automated technologies in its factories to keep the busy production lines running smoothly, while driving down cost.”
Hyster ‘Driven by Balyo’ technology uses reliable Hyster lift trucks with the addition of robotic control systems to help improve accuracy, efficiency and reduce damage. The automation hardware and software neatly interfaces with the truck’s electronic systems allowing them to be used manually when required. Camera systems, lasers, geo navigation, or a combination of several systems may be used depending on the application.
“With repetitive tasks, there is a particular risk of human error, which may make damage or delays more likely,” says Tracy. “Automating these activities can help reduce these costs and offer a good return in the right applications.”
Hyster can now offer robotic tow tractors (LO7.0T) to transport parts and kits reliably and consistently to line feed operations. The tow tractors will follow the required route automatically and autonomously stop at the necessary drop-off stations just in time to deliver small loads and collect empty component containers. There will often be human interaction with the robotic truck. For example, a person may be at a station where the self-drive truck stops in order to unload and then send the truck on to the next station.
Hyster robotic pedestrian counterbalance trucks (S1.0C-1.5C) can also be used to automatically shuttle pallets and stillages over a long distance, together with the Hyster robotic low-level order pickers (LO2.5) to help retrieve goods from storage areas close to the assembly line. Using automation in this way, it’s possible for the operation to become more accurate and predictable with less people management, and the opportunity to deploy staff to more added value tasks.
The initial customer environment mapping for Hyster robotic lift trucks operation is completed in cooperation with the customer, which includes defining the tasks, and details such as pick up and drop off locations. Speed is a fundamental factor in automotive manufacturing with strict time trials down to the second.
“Automation can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure such as pedestrian areas,” says Tracy. “Hyster robotic trucks are programmed to interact with other vehicles and people. For example, to stop and give way.”
In addition to the flexibility of operation, quality and reliability of the robotic lift truck solutions from Hyster, users benefit from the support of a large, global distribution network for service and maintenance, parts supply and technical support.