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Logistics 4.0

Automated and intelligent conveyor technology will change parts of the material handling process in the future.

Efficient material handling solutions are critical for almost all industries

The digitization of value chains is in full swing. It is well on its way to transforming the material handling industry into a cutting-edge cross-sectional industry and a hotspot for digital transformation. The prospects that the global success of e-commerce as one of the driving forces behind digitization will continue for a long time to come are still excellent. Most sectors of the economy will no longer be able to do without efficient material handling solutions in the future.

In manufacturing and distribution processes, there are clear developments with the "Industrial Internet of Things", which suggest that production and goods storage and distribution will be much more closely networked in the future, right through to mergers.

However – and digitalization is no exception: customers and users of the Interroll solution must always receive a measurable return on investment. At Interroll, we are working to make the rollers smarter and thus create added value for our customers in the form of greater efficiency in material handling and even higher plant availability.

Logic and mechanics move closer together

The trend is clear: logic and mechanics are moving closer towards each other and Interroll is already playing a leading role in shaping this process in our industry.

Conveyor technology will be even more automated than before, but also more intelligent. Part of the material handling process will then be controlled at machine level. In future, layout changes can be implemented by reprogramming decentralized intelligence. This will enable conveyor technology to contribute to the development of decentralized intelligence in logistics, distribution and production.

In 2017 and 2018, Interroll therefore invested CHF 5 million each in research budget for innovations in the area of "Logistics 4.0". With our MultiControl, we already offer a certified network card that can control the RollerDrive EC310 in standards such as PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and EtherCat.

With the help of MultiControl, sensors and RollerDrive are integrated directly into the fieldbus level.

The EC 5000 RollerDrive opens the door to Industry 4.0

Alongside the tried-and-tested analog interface, the EC5000 can be supplied with a bus interface based on the CANOpen standard, upon request. This means that modern conveying systems can offer data transparency for the first time. In combination with an Interroll control system with multi-protocol capability (PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and EtherCat), this means that users can consistently visualize a range of information and functions on the screen using the PLC or a web interface. One example is the display of general information about the current operating state and the operating load of the individual drives over time. In parallel, the control systems enable a range of detailed information such as precise error statuses, torque or temperature, for instance, to be read out for each individual drive.

At the same time, the new RollerDrive's bus interface enables users to carry out completely new control functions that are required in an automated environment. As a result, users can control the acceleration, speed and deceleration of the conveyed goods in the system more precisely. This solution also allows them to position the relevant goods on the conveyor to the nearest millimeter—a key requirement in order to guarantee seamless conveying interplay between the conveyor solution and robots or automated gripper arms.