The pilot applies the concept of modularity both in terms of modular, intelligent containers and in terms of flexible, modular logistics’ operations in final assembly processes. In industrial warehouses, human operators assemble a plethora of components of different nature that are brought Just In Time (JIT) or Just In Sequence (JIS) at the line side to provide operators with required parts. In some cases, special containers (i.e., kits) are prepared to hold different types of components to be assembled on the same vehicle. These kits usually travel along the assembly line following the vehicle, delivering heterogenous components at each phase of the assembly. Thus, they need to be properly configured on kit holders, with specific locations hosting each one of the parts they transport. Kits are utilized in various aspects of automotive production, such as in the final assembly, in powertrain assembly, in circular economy remanufacturing and reuse and so on.
Autonomous kitting operations may be required in several shopfloors whenever the warehouse manages a huge variability of components and needs to prepare such kits. Automating the process of kit preparation requires robots (industrial robots or cobots) equipped with the appropriate technology (which may include vision systems and flexible grippers or additional translational devices). These robots pick up parts from containers and put them on the corresponding target kit placed in a specific position in the kit holder. The automation of kit preparation requires a plethora of differently shaped containers to stock and transport all the parts. To perform the kitting operations, autonomous depalletizing and bin-picking operations are necessary.
In the CRF/ILTAR pilot, the focus will be on intelligent types of kits and kit holders that will be developed and utilized, enabling the seamless collaboration of these two industrial partners. This includes the design and development of modular, intelligent kit holders and corresponding kits as well as the modular operations that enable their production (from the ILTAR side). These kit holders will be capable of self-declare their (desirable or actual) content, self-locate and communicate with internal logistics and with the corresponding robots/cobots, thus enabling the optimization of the kitting operations (from the CRF side). Furthermore, the kits and kit holders will facilitate long-term usability utilizing monitoring and self-awareness capabilities during their lifespan (from production, transportation and delivery, to usage and return).