Intralogistics is one of the most challenging disciplines for the engineering sector in terms of managing the flow of materials and products within a company, including all storage, transport and distribution operations of goods in an internal environment.
It is a sector dominated by globalisation and high energy prices, where achieving competitive advantages at every stage of the production process is becoming indispensable for any company. Competitive advantages always come along with three key trends in the sector:
- Energy efficiency: One of the main challenges for intralogistics engineering is to achieve more efficient energy management. Companies are looking to reduce their energy consumption to reduce their operating costs and environmental impact.
- Automation and robotics: The implementation of automated and robotic solutions is a major concern in intralogistics engineering. Companies are looking to improve efficiency and reduce errors in goods handling and transport processes.
- Technology integration: The integration of different technologies is a growing concern in intralogistics. Companies seek to integrate warehouse management systems, automated transport systems, process automation systems, among others, to achieve a more efficient operation.
Due to their capacity to make the most of the potential of these trends, overhead goods transport systems are emerging as a new trend for engineers in charge of designing new projects and updating production facilities.
This is because the advantages they provide, from increased operational efficiency and effectiveness, to freeing up land for use in other tasks and allowing business activity to continue while the new system is being implemented, translate immediately into increased productivity and manufacturing capacity.
However, the high cost of their implementation, as well as the complexity of their programming, has limited their range of action to large companies with sufficient muscle to take on their installation. It should not be forgotten that this type of system not only requires a large infrastructure, but also programming customised to the intrinsic needs of each plant, which has to be carried out again each time a modification is made.
A completely disruptive solution that puts an end to this problem, and makes overhead goods systems accessible also to small and medium-sized companies, are the SL-1500 and SL-100 solutions, which are fixed overhead electrified monorail systems capable of supporting weights of up to 1500kg without touching the ground, as well as carrying out the transfer of goods autonomously due to the intelligence of their own software.
All thanks to a very simple concept: instead of putting the intelligence in the system, so that it can holistically manage all the information and orders present in it, transferring this to the trolleys so that they can make the decisions themselves.
In this way, each trolley is equipped with a wide range of advanced sensors, devices and control systems that allow them to operate autonomously and efficiently. This means that the trolleys are able to make real-time decisions about the best route to take and how to deal with any problems that arise along the way, without the need for constant human intervention.
Furthermore, by placing intelligence in the trolleys, the costly – in both time and money – scheduling process is eliminated. Simply “draw” a map of the system setting out the loading and unloading points that will be sent to and analysed by the trolleys to begin their work.
A process that can be carried out every time a change in the production line is required, thus eliminating the need for future programming, which not only reduces the initial cost of implementing the system, but also greatly shortens the return on investment time.
Two factors of great importance for small and medium-sized companies, which do not have the economic muscle of the big players in the sector and which often require greater flexibility to respond in the best possible way to the ever-changing needs of consumers.
Advantages of transferring system intelligence to trolleys
But the advantages of moving the system intelligence to the trolleys, as proposed by Singular Logistics’ solution, go much further; providing a number of additional benefits including:
- Lower maintenance. Traditional air freight systems have a series of moving parts that are responsible for directing traffic. These parts, as well as being among the most expensive parts of the system, are the ones that accumulate the most breakdowns and problems. By transferring the intelligence to the trolleys, the system does not require these parts, but rather it is the trolleys that move along an immovable electro-track infrastructure; thus eliminating any need for maintenance associated with breakdowns in the moving parts.
- Fewer shutdowns. Being forced to shut down production is the biggest nightmare any company faces. And, unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence in traditional electric track systems, both all those times when the system has to be configured for modification and when a system failure occurs. Again, by moving the intelligence of the system to the trolleys, there is no longer any need to shut down the plant until the problem is fixed or the system is upgraded. In the first case, it is enough to remove the trolley so that the others can autonomously take over its workload or insert a new one that only needs the mapping to continue, while the incident is solved. In the second case, as mentioned above, it is enough to insert the new map so that, in a few minutes, the system can continue with the new production reality of the plant.
- Increased safety. Singular Logistics trolleys are equipped with advanced safety systems that allow them to operate safely and without risk of accidents or damage to the load. In addition, the system operates at very low voltage with all the guarantees of employee safety and makes the process of legalising the production plant easier and less costly.
- Lower energy consumption. Obviously, by not needing a high-voltage line, the system’s energy consumption is reduced by a large percentage; which, in a context such as the current one, leads to huge savings in electricity bills – one of the most important expenses for any industrial company.
- Increased sustainability. In addition, by reducing the amount of energy used by the system, all the polluting emissions derived from its generation are also being eliminated, which will allow the company to increase sustainability by reducing the carbon footprint of its activity.
- Rapid return on investment. Lastly, high-voltage lines require the use of expensive materials such as aluminium that increase the cost of building the infrastructure. By removing these from the equation, Singular Logistics’ system is much more economical than traditional ones. Combined with the advantages mentioned above – reduced maintenance, reduced electricity bills, reduced production downtime, etc. – the payback time for the investment is much shorter. – the return-on-investment time is much shorter than with traditional systems.
In conclusion, air transport of goods by electro-rail is the ideal choice for engineers who have designed a fast and efficient material and product transport system for any production site. And Singular Logistics’ innovative and disruptive concept has taken this solution to unprecedented levels of operational efficiency and effectiveness, safety and savings.