In HERMA's halls, huge rolls of paper are transported and transferred without interruption, fully automatically and with maximum precision. As a leading European specialist in packaging and product labeling, the German company relies on driverless transport vehicles (AGVs) from Stäubli WFT. Before construction on its new coating plant started, the entire project was already planned with the automation expert and subsequently implemented.
In its Labels division, HERMA manufactures self-adhesive paper and film laminates using state-of-the-art coating technology and a high level of innovation. A high degree of automation is crucial for optimum material flow. Among other things, a driverless transport system for the newly built coating hall had to meet this criterion.
Weighing up to 4.5 tons, 24 kilometers long and 2 meters wide, the paper and film rolls are real heavyweights. This makes it all the more important to transport them to their destination automatically and precisely without additional sensors. From goods receipt via a high-bay warehouse to processing and subsequent shipping, the AGVs are loaded and unloaded several times. In addition to the smooth cooperation of the different machines, this requires a high positioning accuracy of 2 millimeters.
The system also had to be easily adaptable to new routes, machine locations and structural changes in the future. Stäubli WFT has realized this with a fleet of several AGVs, spread over two floors. The system can be flexibly expanded.
The intensive project was as challenging as it was successful. The modular AGVs with their patented drive technology consistently meet HERMA's specific requirements. For example, the dynamic control of the AGVs is carried out via a master computer, which allows the operator to react to changes quickly and easily. The omnidirectional vehicles fit seamlessly into the local conditions as well as the infrastructure and communicate with a variety of relevant interfaces – from the conveyor system to the warehouse management system.
Each delivery and pick-up station is approached fully automatically and precisely. For HERMA, all this means continuous material flow in three-shift operation.
As a result of implementing the AGVs from Stäubli WFT, downtimes have been significantly reduced and productivity increased. However, this is not the only reason the project was successful, according to Frank Baude, Logistics Manager at HERMA:
"In addition to the continuous flow of goods and the noticeable increase in productivity we have experienced thanks to the AGVs, I would like to highlight the great collaboration. The pragmatism, the technical know-how, and the drive of Stäubli WFT to always achieve the best for us, that will remain in my memory for a long time."
Due to the inspiring and successful experience of the project, HERMA is currently considering using fully automatic vehicles from Stäubli WFT in the outdoor area between the individual parts of the building as well. The first concepts for this are already on the table.