Powered pallet conveyor for automotive logistics
In the British West Midlands, a gigantic logistics operating center is being built for one of Great Britain’s leading automotive manufacturers. ROFA AG has implemented a powered pallet conveyor (PPC) of the latest generation in close cooperation with a general contractor. A total of 140 transport vehicles are used on two levels, and stock the fully automated high-bay warehouse with outgoing and incoming goods while also linking internal processes.
High speeds, exemplary sustainability, the customary premium quality - the British car manufacturer has set itself ambitious goals for the new distribution center. Replacement parts will go out all over the world from here, and assembly lines and parts warehouses will be delivered throughout Europe. In order to satisfy the service promise regarding adherence to schedules and reliability, everything has to run like clockwork. The center’s implementation was followed by a commission for one of the world’s leading logistics system integrators. As a subcontractor, ROFA AG implemented the aorta of the new center’s materials handling technology, a two-story powered pallet conveyor (PPC) over a total of 2.2 kilometers, 34 switches, and with a total of 140 transport vehicles.
2,000 trips per hour
The flow rate is tremendous. In peak times, up to 2,000 pallets are moved per hour on the PPC’s two levels. On pallets and in wire mesh boxes, the goods are transported between the fully automated high-bay warehouse and the two goods-in stations, as well as the three goods-out stations; the PPC also stocks other areas throughout the system with the required items. The vehicles can carry both pallets and wire mesh boxes and wherever possible, they carry multiple items in order to optimize utilization. “Determining the exact number of vehicles required was a big challenge,” says sales expert Christian Sandig, who analyzed material flow at the beginning and subsequently worked out a system proposal.
A trust-based partnership between the general contractor and ROFA AG was key to the project’s success. Thus ROFA was able to provide valuable ideas for layout and technology in the sales phase. An overhead conveyor system was initially planned, but ROFA convinced the client of the technical and economical advantages of a rail-guided floor conveyor system. “When the simulation showed that our assumptions and projections were right on target, we had the contract in the bag, after a long sales phase that lasted a total of ten months,” says Sandig. The general contractor and ROFA AG are also working hand in hand on the controls for the PPC, as the controls are not part of the ROFA portfolio, unlike the rest, but will be supplied on site.
ROFA AG - Partner with an understanding of systems
“We had previously worked on a joint contract in China with our client, a project which was the first one in Europe. Scrutinizing the overall layout critically again was exactly the right step. In this way, we proved that we are not only an implementing company with engineering expertise, but a system partner that can see the big picture,” summarizes Sandig. The next projects are already being planned.
Customer: System integrator with end customers in the United Kingdom
Project: Powered pallet conveyor for transporting pallets loaded with goods and carrier pallets for wire mesh boxes
Involved companies: ROFA INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION AG
Project duration: 15 months
Products & Performance
Task: Connect the different sub-areas in the distribution center
Performance: The reworked express switch enables high throughput that cannot be realized with conventional switch technology.
Powered pallet conveyor (PPC):
Track layout on 2 platform levels
- approx. 2,200 m track
- 34 switches
- First time using the reworked express switch
- 140 vehicles
- > 920 pallet throughput per hour and level
- Electric vehicle control technology: Siemens
- Communications: WLAN, RCOAX
- Load capacity: 800 kg
- Vmax.: 2 m/s
- Amax.: 0.7 m/s²