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Opening the treasure chest of industrial data

Digital connectivity between people, machines, products, suppliers and customers stands at the core of the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’. This gives rise to complex flows of information within and outside a company. Filtered down to valuable business insights, this information can be used for more precise control and cost-effective management of the production process than ever before.

 

‘Industry 4.0’ is a quantum leap in the history of human technology. For the first time ever, intelligent machines and products in digitalised companies communicate and interact autonomously with one another in the ‘Internet of Things’. This is enabled by enormous computing power in combination with sensoring, measuring and information sharing technologies. The ‘Internet of Services’ is superimposed on the ‘Internet of Things’. This precisely controls material flows and production processes and coordinates the actions and contributions of all participants involved in the value creation chain – the customers, manufacturers and suppliers.

The objectives of establishing connectivity in modern, digital manufacturing processes focus above all on increasing the efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility of the entire supply and production chain. This has become essential since increasing expectations on the part of customers demand shorter and shorter product cycles and more individualised products. At the same time, technological developments have become increasingly difficult to anticipate or predict. Nevertheless, new technologies must be quickly and flexibly integrated and manufacturing process must be appropriately adapted.

Logistic processes managed with cloud services

A company’s internal and external logistics play a particularly important role in the world of connected manufacturing. For instance, cloud services manage the processes along the supply chain. Products, containers and machines are interconnected and transport systems or multifunctional robotic cells automatically handle the material flow. The people who work in logistics or production are integrated into the processes by means of smart assistant devices.

connect: software from Linde Connected Solutions takes over the smart administration and control of the material handling vehicles deployed. The various software and hardware solutions of the connect: concept are a fundamental prerequisite for the ability to realise truly comprehensive 4.0 logistics in concerns. Only in this way can the real world be connected with the vehicles of the new, digital world. The system fits seamlessly into current market developments, as logistics systems are becoming increasingly dynamic, flexible, complex, transparent – and connected.

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Control and sensoring systems

Linde Material Handling has by far the greatest technological lead in the area of on-board electronic vehicle control systems. The warehouse equipment and forklifts are almost exclusively ‘fly-by-wire’ vehicles – namely electronically controlled. As such, they are as good as predestined for integration as solutions for the complex logistics of digitalised manufacturing processes.

Vehicle control alone generates a multitude of data about vehicle status and usage – for instance, details of operating hours, the proportions of the various vehicle functions performed, such as like lifting, lowering and driving, as well as speeds and error codes. In addition to this information, on-board sensors also gather data about the effects of collisions, fill levels and consumption. These information are transferred from the vehicle to local or cloud-based databases via Bluetooth, WiFi or mobile wireless communication. There, they are made available to IT functions such as fleet and warehouse management systems.

Sensors also gather load weights, lifting heights or mast oscillation data and transmit them to complex warehouse equipment assistance systems like Linde Safety Pilot or Dynamic Mast control. Such systems increase safety levels for drivers and personnel in the areas in which vehicles are deployed, reduce damage and increase productivity.

Innovative driver assistance systems for counterbalanced forklifts

Toppling accidents involving counterbalanced forklifts can cause serious material damage and injuries to persons. Linde has developed the Linde Safety Pilot (LSP) to prevent such accidents. Important parameters from multiple sensors and an innovative driver assistance system are made available to the driver on an electronic display. This brings enormous advantages in terms of safety and productivity for both forklift drivers and operators. LSP is available in two versions. The basic version, LSP Select, is equipped with sensors for determining load weight and lift height. A cable length indicator especially developed for the purpose is integrated in the lifting frame and determines the lift height. In the Active version, LSP actively slows or stops driving or working functions whenever the control system detects a critical load torque. For the calculation of load torque, the Linde engineers measure rear axle loading values. A special axle-loading sensor was developed especially for this purpose.

Dynamic Mast Control improves high-level load lifting

Storage space is costly. In consequence, warehouses and storage facilities are built increasingly higher to maximise storage space in small areas. Transporting loads at greater heights has its own special risks: with increasing height, the mast begins to bend under load and mast oscillations become stronger. This not only makes working more difficult, it makes it more dangerous, too. There is also a risk of damage to the load and storage racks. Dynamic Mast Control (DCM) from Linde counteracts these risks. This dynamic driver assistance system compensates for mast movement by applying precisely targeted counter-movements to the mast. This eliminates waiting times at racks and ensures efficient and productive working procedures. The core component of DMC is a powerful, electronically-controlled linear actuator with extremely short response times.  Conventional reach trucks work with a hydraulic system that is not capable of such precise control.

Logistics assistance systems

How are individual forklifts used, and by whom? What do the vehicles consumption figures look like, and is it in good working order? The answers to these questions are of immense importance to fleet managers – the interaction of the software and hardware components of connect: delivers the answers they need and make it much easier to exploit the full potential of the fleet.

Fleet management 4.0

The application package connect:desk is the core component of the connect: portfolio and simultaneously creates the basis for an entirely new fleet management concept. This is where all data are gathered, analysed and monitored. The software administers drivers and vehicles and fulfils all fleet management tasks. It can, for instance, identify which driver is driving which vehicle and the location of the vehicle on site, whether a vehicle is frequently or seldom used and the number of recent collision incidents with a particular forklift. The data are comprehensively analysed and continuously updated. Reporting can be individualised to meet specific requirements and is suitable for use with all fleet sizes. The connect: software concept offers a wide range of reporting and analysis functions and communicates with vehicles by means of all common communication technologies such as Bluetooth, mobile wireless and WLAN.

connect: functions – the product family at a glance

Documentation of vehicle data

1. connect:dt crash detection – an impact sensor registers heavy shocks to the vehicle and allows verification of vehicle damage and its causes.

2. connect:dt operating hours – the digital log book enables more efficient planning of servicing intervals and provides information on vehicle utilisation.

3. connect:dt trouble codes – error codes from vehicle control systems are automatically communicated to this module to allow identification and elimination of malfunctions before they become critical.

Analysis of usage data

1. connect:an usage analysis – the proportions of lifting/lowering/driving actions can be registered for each individual vehicle in the fleet. The module also performs analyses of the workload of each vehicle and fleet readiness to allow more efficient and effective fleet sizing.

2. connect:an battery management – this module allows the checking of the condition and charging characteristics of batteries in use.

Access control

1. connect:ac access control – enables vehicle access by PIN number or RFID, assignment of drivers to particular vehicles and the administration of appropriate documents (driving licence, eyesight tests etc.).

2. connect:ac pre-operational check – Is a mobile app that requests a vehicle check before a shift can begin. Faults are recorded photographically and sent to the system. The vehicle may be activated only after completion of a proper check.

connect: dedicated to greater safety

How efficiently the system works is illustrated, for example, at the headquarters of Villeroy & Boch in Mettlach in Saarland. 23 Linde vehicles are in constant use with frequently changing drivers – a source of potential problems. connect: access control ensures that only appropriately authorised drivers can operate a particular vehicle. Drivers must swipe their authorisation card across a reader before every start. This ensures that injuries to persons and damage to goods and equipment are much more unlikely to happen. At the same time, the fleet manager at Villeroy & Boch takes advantage of the Linde software and hardware tools to optimise the deployment of his extensive fleet.

Full racing enjoyment and safe fleet management

Operators of karting tracks have similar requirements to those of the logistics industry: maximum safety, minimum repairs and optimum vehicle utilization. Kart manufacturer CRG does not only offer its customers innovative karts, but also connect: fleet management by Linde Connected Solutions. This combination of electric drive technology – also from Linde – and fleet management system gives drivers the ultimate racing experience while simultaneously maintaining the highest level of safety. The connect: software also offers karting track operators important information about their fleet.

More about how Connected Solutions can be used with CRG karts.

Read the case study
Race kart with Linde batteries

Localisation

Localisation is a subject you cannot ignore if you have long-term plans to implement a fully networked intralogistics system down to the very last wheel nut. Localisation technology enables you to locate and track goods, transport containers and all your vehicles.

Indoor localisation with centimetre accuracy

The locations of people and vehicles cannot be tracked inside buildings using GPS technology because walls block the satellite signals. Centimetre-precise locationalisation becomes possible, however, using Intralogistics Navigation (IntraNav) technology. It effectively combines inertial sensors and radio-based runtime measurement to produce the world’s most precise, industry-grade tracking system for indoor and outdoor areas. This innovation was developed by the Linde partner Quantitec. How does it work?

Logo Intranav

It is based on a simple transmitter-receiver principle: Three transmitters (so-called nodes) are sufficient to set up a UWB radio cell (UltraWideBand). Appropriate receivers (tags) can be localised with an accuracy of up to two centimetres inside one of these cells. This is possible because the tags are also equipped with so-called inertial sensors that measure acceleration and rotation. Sensors of this kind are also used in smartphones and in the aerospace industry. The battery life of these tags is up to eight years.

Facilitating extensive analysis: The position and movement data collected in this way is displayed in a Web app and, if desired, can be passed on to higher level control structures within the company or to mobile devices such as smartphones. This data can be used, for example, to optimise the deployment times and routes of autonomous vehicles.

How is the system set up?

1. step: Depending on the size of the floor area, Quantitec and Linde experts install and activate a specific number of nodes in the building – for example, six to ten of these devices are sufficient for an area of 2,000 square metres. They are mounted on walls or ceilings like ordinary Wi-Fi access points.

2. step: Experts link the tags, which are fitted, for example, to Linde Material Handling vehicles, with the system. It is also possible to transfer responsibility for position calculations to the receiver. Using these active tags, the system also functions in the event of an electricity outage.

Example IntraNav applications

  • Retail: Precise tracking of shopping carts or mobile devices generates specific data to evaluate the optimisation of product positioning.
  • Production and warehouse: Tracking, navigation and the localisation of tools, vehicles, containers and products or evacuation management and safety tracking of persons.
  • Entertainment: Tracking for interactive tour-guide systems in museums, at fairs or in showrooms.

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