Published on: Jun 5, 2020
Harderwijk, December 2019
AWL-Techniek builds machines to produce parts for the automotive industry. AWL is also a machine builder for the general metal industry. For about six years now, the Research & Development (R&D) Department has taken an increasingly important role within the company, resulting in the deployment of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) as the new 'colleagues' in internal logistics.
HARDERWIJK – The R&D department has grown in six years from four to thirty R&D specialists. One of them is Wilbert van de Ridder. The man from Putten (31) works with AMRs. “Traditionally, we weld with robots, and we are increasingly expanding robotization into other facets. Our customers demand machine functionality, quality controls, parts traceability and also the automation of parts transport between machines.” Van de Ridder focuses on logistics automation: from warehouse to machine, but also from machine to machine. “Our customers in the automotive industry are experiencing staff shortages and are struggling to recruit operators. We are asked to automate the part that was formerly done manually: the loading and unloading of parts in machines.”
In 2018, there were more and more questions about logistics automation. AWL investigated the potential and acquired an AMR. AWL developed its own lift system and control. “We have conducted our own Experience Center tests with it. The AMR must be able to run autonomously from point A to B in the factory. Our robot transports the parts in blue containers from the warehouse to Assembly and Jig construction. For this, we gave it a global map of the factory and traffic rules. It has no fixed paths, it can assess situations itself. If people or a forklift truck are in the way, it chooses a different route or waits. The AMR is free to drive around and gives a sound when it comes around the corner.”
Replacing people with robots makes many people anxious, but AWL is convinced that this can optimize the process and can absorb staff shortages. “We used to transport parts manually in trolleys. Those who previously picked up supplies, can now focus on other tasks. We see this as an opportunity for the automotive and general metal industry. By replacing operators with robots, you can deploy them elsewhere. It is a shift instead of a replacement.”
AWL now employs two AMRs, and a third is coming. AMRs will soon be deployed at the new head office to automate the transport of containers. “Picking up a project like this is a typical R&D task. Our customers want to see that something works. They walk around here too during the annual AWL Tech Days and the AMR appeals to them. Even internally at AWL, not everyone was convinced about the AMR at first, but running the tests in the organization has demonstrated the added value.
” If you, like Wilbert, also want to work at AWL on innovative projects, then please visit careers.awl.nl.
Source (NL): Stad in Bedrijf
Posted on Jan 22, 2020