Success Story: How TTI, Inc. Realized the full Potential of its Robot Fleet with WAKU Sense intelligent Traffic Management
TTI, Inc. in Maisach-Gernlinden faced the problem that its autonomous mobile robots (AMR) from Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) and automated guided vehicles (AGV) from BILA A/S could not operate in an environment with shared travel paths. As a consequence, the robots were blocking each other which led to reduced uptime and efficiency losses. The TTI, Inc. project team around Tassilo Matthes and Gökan Yilmaz was looking for an intelligent solution to this problem.
WAKU Sense enabled TTI, Inc. to efficiently and safely regulate the travel paths of the two mobile robots, identified new application possibilities, and achieved higher utilization rates. Real-time data and analytics made the material handling processes more visible and transparent. Overall, TTI, Inc. realized significant cost savings by using WAKU Sense in the receiving department. In addition, new use cases for robot automation were identified.
"It is only due to WAKU Sense that we are able to let mobile robots from different manufacturers drive in the same areas and aisles. The intelligent area limits enable us to regulate traffic in order to operate mixed traffic safely and efficiently. This gives us a wide range of uses for the AGVs and AMRs, enabling us not only to achieve huge cost savings in our receiving department but also to ensure our overall growth target of 10% per year." - Tassilo Matthes, Supply Chain Program Manager
The initial situation
- Due to the sharp increase in demand for microelectronic components TTI, Inc. faced a challenge to stay flexible, efficient, and deliver goods on time
- As a result, the company decided to automate its receiving department to ensure fast, reliable, and efficient intralogistics operations
- The installation of 12 AMRs from MiR and three driverless forklifts "Global AGV" from BILA A/S was carried out together with the automation specialist JUGARD+KÜNSTNER
TTI, Inc. Europe, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is a world-leading specialist distributor of passive, connector, electromechanical, discrete, power, and sensor components. They serve the European market from its European headquarter in Maisach-Gernlinden. The specialty distributor uses 42,000 m², of warehousing space and ships 2.75 million products annually. Due to the sharp increase in demand for microelectronic components, TTI, Inc. is facing a new challenge. On the one hand, TTI, Inc. wants to continue to provide superior service to its customers and deliver products on time, every time. On the other hand, the shortage of skilled workers in logistics is clearly noticeable. Repetitive and physically demanding tasks are to be performed primarily by autonomous systems in order to relieve shopfloor workers.
Therefore, TTI, Inc. decided to integrate 12 AMRs from Mobile Industrial Robots and three driverless forklifts "Global AGV" from BILA A/S in the goods receiving area. These mobile robots provide support in transporting materials over long distances. The design, procurement, and installation of the mobile robots were handled by the automation experts from JUGARD+KÜNSTNER. In addition, JUGARD+KÜNSTNER manufactured individual racking systems for five MiR 250, enabling goods to be transported autonomously. The three Global AGV driverless forklifts (type L14) are used in the goods receiving area, where they quickly remove full loads.
- Two different robotic systems shared common travel paths
- Unfortunately, the traffic control between the devices did not work smoothly
- Consequently, the mobile robots were at a standstill and unable to continue their missions, resulting in efficiency losses
- Actual performance and utilization of the robot fleet were difficult to measure
- Data analysis and evaluation were very time consuming
By deploying a mixed fleet, TTI, Inc. encountered an unprecedented challenge. Initially, it was impossible for the two robotic systems to operate in a shared environment without problems. The systems were blocking each other on the shared travel paths, as a result, they were unable to continue their missions. The problem had to be solved manually by a shopfloor worker. It was also unclear where the robots were in the warehouse since there was no real-time visualized data to locate the vehicles. In some cases, a robot was searched for by employees on the store floor when it ran out of power due to an empty battery.
In addition, each robot system had manufacturer-specific robot operating software. Consequently, employees had to deal with two very different user interfaces. It was difficult for employees to measure the actual performance and utilization of the robot fleet on the scale of things Accurate data analysis and evaluation were very time-consuming for the Supply Chain Program Manager, Tassilo Matthes. There were only a few key users who could operate the robots and correct any errors that might occur.
- TTI, Inc. was looking for a solution for conflict zones and optimal operation of its robot fleet
- On the recommendation of JUGARD+KÜNSTNER, TTI, Inc. chose WAKU Sense and invited our team to Maisach-Gernlinden
"Waku Sense gives our customers a user-friendly, real-time, overall view of their mobile robot fleet" - Daniel Künstner, Sales Manager JUGARD+KÜNSTNER
TTI, Inc. was researching a solution to enable a smooth operation of the two robot systems on shared travel paths with minimal effort and to achieve higher utilization. They were looking for a centralized tool with an intuitive user interface to optimally control and monitor all robots. The distribution company decided to use WAKU Sense on the recommendation of JUGARD+KÜNSTNER and invited our team to Maisach-Gernlinden for a first meeting.
The project phase
- In the joint workshop, a roadmap of topics was developed with the first step "dashboards with process data"
- WAKU Sense was installed first only for the robot systems of MiR
- The robot manufacturer of the Global AGVs provided missing necessary data points for the interface, followed by the integration of the systems into WAKU Sense
- A development partnership was formed between WAKU Robotics and TTI, Inc. to continuously improve WAKU Sense
"Our employees were able to quickly learn using WAKU Sense and understand the value it adds to us. The feedback from employees on usability is quite positive: WAKU Sense is intuitive to use, navigation is easy, and the technical presentation is flawless." - Tassilo Matthes, Supply Chain Program Manager
In August 2021, the first meeting took place at TTI, Inc. A joint workshop on the current challenges was held. First insights, thanks to the analytics module of WAKU Sense, were generated. Subsequently, a roadmap of topics was developed with the first step "dashboards with process data" to successively solve the traffic problem. WAKU Sense was jointly installed with the IT department of TTI, Inc. for MiR's robotic systems. The integration of the Global AGVs was a bit more difficult at first, as the associated software interface did not contain all the required data points. However, this problem was solved after a short time in coordination with the robot manufacturer and the driverless forklifts were integrated.
A development partnership was formed between TTI, Inc. and us. Regular telephone and video calls as well as on-site visits were conducted to continuously improve the stability of WAKU Sense and to develop further useful features.
Why it was a success
- WAKU Sense has been integrated; efficient traffic management enables seamless operation of the robot systems
- Real-time data provides relevant process data and information about the status, missions & battery condition of the robot systems
- Multiple use cases are possible, significantly increasing the overall utilization of the robot systems
"Safety in internal operations is elementary for us. Through WAKU Sense, we have managed to display warning signals audiovisually and avoid collisions between AGVs and AMRs in conflict zones. As a result, more missions can be triggered and we can increase utilization significantly." - Gökan Yilmaz, Process Manager Operations Europe
With the installation of WAKU Sense, MiR and Global AGV's mobile robots can safely share common travel paths in one environment and work seamlessly together through efficient Traffic Management. WAKU Sense offers a feature called Area Limits, which allows users to define zones where only one robot is allowed to be in order to prevent collisions. Thanks to WAKU Sense's intuitive user interface, the Robot Operator - a role newly introduced by TTI, Inc. - can independently draw the Area Limits on the Live Map. The mobile robots can now be used for multiple use cases, significantly increasing utilization.
The entire robot fleet is visible to all employees on the shopfloor through WAKU Sense. The live dashboard maps real-time data that informs about the current status of the individual mobile robots, and thus supports the transparency of the processes. Through Process Analytics TTI, Inc. can easier analyze, evaluate and understand processes. TTI, Inc. intends to continue investing in automation and integrable robotic systems as it continues to realize its vision of a smart warehouse.
Why WAKU Sense?
With WAKU Sense, we enable our customers to realize the full potential of their mobile robot fleet. Our customers use the software-as-a-service product to efficiently manage and analyze the traffic of mobile robots from different manufacturers within warehouse and production environments without replacing the robot operating software of the robot manufacturers. Thanks to an intuitive user interface, custom traffic rules can be easily defined. WAKU Sense ensures the interoperability of robots and manual vehicles, i.e. the ability of devices from different manufacturers to reliably interact with each other. For more information on WAKU Sense, visit www.waku-sense.com.
Would you like to test WAKU Sense by yourself? Then use the contact form and we will send you an individual demo version for free. The experts at WAKU Robotics will be happy to help you get started with mobile robots!
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