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f+h Intralogistics 2/2016

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f+h Intralogistics 2/2016

Retrofit without any

Retrofit without any production losses WAREHOUSING As the service life increases, the availability of machines and systems is reduced due to wear and a lack of replacement parts. At the same technology is progressing and customer requirements are continuously increasing, so that the necessity to modernize electric and automation components becomes inevitable at some point. About Heitec Heitec is known for industrial competence in automation and electronics and offers solutions, products and services in the fields of software, mechanics and electronics. More than 2,000 customers increase their productivity and optimize their products with the help of Heitec’s state-of-the-art, reliable and economic system solutions. A work force of over 1,000 employees at numerous sites worldwide provides high-quality industry skills close to the customer. Vacuumschmelze (VAC) GmbH & Co. KG based in Hanau, Germany, develops, produces and sells special magnetic materials and refined products derived from them. The range of products includes half-finished products and parts with magnetic and physical properties, inductive electronic components, as well as magnets and magnetic systems, which, amongst other things, are used in medical technology, and the automotive and aviation industries. The half-finished products and raw materials used for production are temporarily stored in the manufacturer’s high-bay warehouse constructed in 1980. The warehouse has a capacity of 3,800 storage positions spread across eight rack rows. Four racking storage and retrieval vehicles store and retrieve the pallets that vary in size and can weigh up to 2.5 tones. To date, all of the storage and retrieval operations were controlled via a Simatic S5-135U programmable logic control unit with a Coros visualization system. “Our problem was that a lot of the hardware components being used had already been discontinued in the 1990s and a continuous supply of replacement parts was no longer guaranteed,” explains Joachim Koch, Manager of Warehousing/Transportation at VAC. “In addition to it being difficult to obtain replacement parts, there were hardly any specialists who could master the old technology. This made us come to the decision to migrate the system.” The aim was to update the existing system to the state-of-the-art by replacing old components and adding current technological developments. The automation and drive technology were replaced as f+h Intralogistics 2/2016

01 Storage and retrieval operations continue without any interruptions despite the ongoing retrofit work part of the modernization project, whereby the energy costs could be significantly reduced. Open heart surgery Before calling for tenders for the retrofit project, the automation specialist, Heitec, based in Erlangen, Germany, analyzed the modernization requirements and created a performance specification that included all of the key points and was discussed with all of the parties involved, such as the managers, operators and maintenance technicians. During this process, it was determined that the design of the operating functions on the control panels should not be changed significantly thus making it easier for the system operators to switch to the new system. The safety technology also needed to be updated in accordance with the latest state of the art. At the same time, the storage and retrieval operations (Image 01) could not be affected during the conversion due to ongoing production. To reduce project risks, Heitec developed the actual commissioning concept on a virtual model. The procedure was implemented as follows: To complete a retrofit, the specialists analyze the system on site, record the characteristics, generate a sketch of the system geometry and use this to create a virtual model on the computer (Image 02). The control software is tested and optimized on these models and placed into virtual operation before each of the retrofitting stages. The models provide significant functional data about a high-bay warehouse in real time so that the new control software can be tested without blocking the real system. The commissioner uses the computer to execute exactly what he needs to do when commissioning the actual machine. With the help of the concept, the old and new system could be operated in parallel and the retrofitting work could be completed in stages. The new drive systems and control units for the racking storage and retrieval vehicles were preassembled and installed on mounting plates to ensure they could be exchanged swiftly. During the retrofitting phase, the old central control system was coupled via a corresponding interface with the new control unit so that all of the old and new functionalities were guaranteed while the retrofit was being implemented. The central control system, that coordinates the storage and retrieval operations in all of the lanes, was only replaced once all of the racking storage and retrieval vehicles had been retrofitted. 02 An animated model on the computer illustrates the functional data of the high-bay warehouse f+h Intralogistics 2/2016

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