AGV fleet for combine harvesters
Flexible transport solution for heavyweights
CLAAS is one of the world’s leading manufacturers for agricultural machinery. Because the new generation of combine harvesters follows modular product architecture, production and assembly processes also had undergo a thorough reorganization. High flexibility, greater efficiency, and consistent security for workers were central factors. The ROFA Group was able to satisfy these needs with a custom AGV fleet management system.
Two in one
The project’s origins lay in restructuring the combine harvester product portfolio: two older series were intended to be gradually replaced with two modular successor series. In this process, CLAAS also decided to combine two production lines into one, and to rely on the principle of mixed assembly across lines from now on. The purpose of this was to optimize capacity utilization and to make more efficient line balancing possible - combined with the desire to keep changeover times for the new series short.
The AGVs newly designed by the ROFA Group, totaling 49, serve an important function in this context. They are deployed at each station and drive essential components or assemblies to the assembly lines. Unlike in the past, this is no longer done with a track-mounted, fixed concept embedded in the floor. The AGVs supplied by ROFA can now be freely programmed to navigate the area. Intelligent on-board technology from MLR provides the prerequisites for this: The navigation data for travel routes is transmitted directly to the vehicle control system via an IT interface, while LogOS® the control and guide software designed by MLR, takes care of seamless communication between customer IT and AGV. Magnet points embedded in the floor keep navigation on track and are robust and not tied to expensive floor work.
Competence in security and heavy loads
Here’s how dynamic the new process is: at no point is personal safety called into question. To prevent collisions between workers and AGVs, the vehicles have been equipped with 360-degree scanning field coverage. If a worker is on the track, the AGV will immediately come to a stop or won’t even accelerate in the first place. In addition to the combined AGV expertise from MLR, ROFA AG’s expertise with heavy loads was also crucial to winning the contract. An integrated hydraulic hub helps the worker to start the assembly process when joining individual assemblies, universal receivers for all combine harvester types guarantee a fast workflow without long changeover times.
Develop scenarios first, then implement
“In each project, we weigh the pros and cons of different technologies against each other. This is what convinced CLAAS to work with us as their partner,” summarizes ROFA sales expert Manuel Widera. This was precisely the case when it came to the energy concept. Initially, there was inductive energy transfer in the room, but ROFA was able to convince CLAAS of the benefits of a high-performance lithium ion drive unit. In addition to high cycle stability, a long service life, and the convenience of fast charging, the greatest advantage of this system is its flexibility: while cable are laid in the floor with the inductive approach and this is what determines track routes, the battery concept now provides complete freedom - a central aspect for future developments at CLAAS.
Client: Claas Harsewinkel
Project: Automated guided vehicle system for assembly lines in the agricultural industry
Product: Combine harvester
Involved group companies:
- ROFA INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION AG
- MLR System GmbH
Project duration: 2 years
Products & performance
- 49 x AGV (automated guided vehicles)
- 1,200 m track
- 360° scanning field coverage
- Universal receivers for all product types
- Hydraulic hub
- 25 ton load capacity
- Energy supply: 100% battery; recharging on pallets at defined points
- Navigation concept: Coupled navigation combining odometry and magnet points
- LEDs as a visual warning device and status report
- Communication via W-LAN
- Production information visualization along the assembly line
- Picking cart carried along to defined areas
- “Dynamic ACC” (adaptive cruise control) implemented
- LogOS host computer contains the functions for controlling and managing system parts as well as visualization via a graphic user interface
- MES customer system (manufacturing execution system) integration and connection
- Integrates into central fire alarm system