Project vision is a highly automated logistics system supporting future factories to achieve maximum flexibility, cost and energy efficiency as well as accident free operation.
Currently modern factories for the production and packaging of mass products are organized in three main entities:
- Processing branch, in which products are made.
- Packaging line, which prepares and products wraps with packaging material to assure their integrity during the shipment and the final distribution to customers.
- Factory logistics system, which handles the raw materials and finished products in relation with the warehouse management, and for the loading and shipment.
Today, product processing and packaging have often reached a high degree of automation, in which energy consumption awareness, agile manufacturing and product customization are well addressed. For example, packaging lines are designed and deployed to allow a fast change of packaging size and pattern in order to respond promptly to production requirements. Notably, the optimization of machines management in the packaging line allows a more efficient use of the energy during production.
- Factory logistics plays an important role affecting production efficiency and energy consumption. It takes care of moving raw materials and final products from and to factory warehouse and the production shop floor:
Therefore, any bottleneck and inefficiency in factory logistics decreases the productivity level of the whole factory.
Hence, the entire manufacturing process needs to be considered and optimized in a holistic way, including factory logistics, as well. Automation and optimization should be applied to the full manufacturing chain in order to increase the efficiency and the flexibility of the entire process, while ensuring safe operation and decreasing energy consumption.
- Consequently, the factory logistics systems have to be flexible, efficient, green and safe.
Flexibility is required to deal with time-varying demand, and to manage several variants of products. It is also necessary to enable smart manufacturing systems which need to be agile in order to allow easy and fast customization of the production. As always, efficiency is crucial to production costs and affects the price of the final product. In addition smart manufacturing systems must reduce waste and energy consumption (so called ‘green’).
Moreover, all the operations must be executed in a robust and safe way, avoiding hazards for material and objects but above all for human workers.
- To sum up, factory logistics makes a major bottleneck in production and packaging of mass products. There is, indeed, a great need to optimize also this part of the factory operations.