Final assembly is the last value adding step in manufacturing processes of complex goods. Due to customized products, it is subject to special transition requirements. This requires frequent and fast changes to production plants and their in-house logistics systems. Logistic systems must manage the supply and transport of materials for production, i.e. the chain of processing stations. Furthermore, it must be deployable in production-related areas, for instance, the receiving area. Today's logistics and material flow systems are mainly rigid in layout design, performance and type of used load carrier. Their conversion is very time-consuming and cost-intensive and is currently carried out mainly manually. Additionally, the control technology of today's systems causes a majority of the total system costs, due to a high installation effort for the central structure. Only by a paradigm shift in concept and setup of logistics systems these requirements can be fulfilled in the future.

The KARIS PRO research project is pursuing such a paradigm shift. It combines the advantages of adaptability and cost efficiency. The core principle is the use of redundant, identically constructed individual elements, which navigate independently and transport load carriers. In addition, the system recognizes changes and is capable to autonomously respond to new requirements.

To make the autonomous behaviour of KARIS PRO as a complete system both predictable and comprehensible, a simulation environment was developed. The simulation supports the development of the decentralized control algorithms and the operational planning of KARIS PRO. A major challenge is the functional safety of the system. On the one hand, KARIS PRO must replace the safety systems of stationary safety devices, such as light grids, emergency stop devices, etc. Therefore, new hardware and software concepts were developed. On the other hand, a variety of new hazards must be identified, and appropriate protective measures must be taken. These include in particular hazards that arise when elements autonomously move in proximity of working people.

Although KARIS PRO conceals highly complex decision algorithms embedded in cyber-physical systems (CPS), the system behaviour can be compared from the outside with a Lego construction kit, which automatically takes the required form. KARIS PRO was tested twice over three months. The two trials provide the base to deploy KARIS PRO also in other areas of small batch production, for such as home appliances, medical and electrical equipment.

More Information: www.karispro.de

[Videos:] Autonomous robots for logistics: KARIS PRO: