ASTI Stacker Autonomous Pallet Truck for 4 Pallets at PIMAD (BIMBO)

ASTI Mobile Robotics has developed a driverless transport system for the PIMAD facility in Azuqueca de Henares (Guadalajara), which belongs to the BIMBO group. A total of two autonomously navigating pallet trucks take over the transport of Euro pallets loaded with bread products (dimensions 1200 x 800 mm) between the packaging machines and the warehouse. Thanks to the extra long forks (2400 mm), each truck can lift up to 4 pallets simultaneously, one pallet weighing 350 kg each. This minimizes transport times and routes. At the same time, the pallet trucks feed the production line with empty pallets, thus enabling the optimization of processes and just-in-time delivery.

  • Sector: Food industry
  • 2 vehicles
  • Transport of up to 4 Euro pallets at the same time
  • AGV with log forks (2400 mm)
  • Automatic battery change with replacement batteries
  • Door opening

Task and customer benefits

The BIMBO group is one of the world’s largest food producers with headquarters in Mexico City. The company has 105 manufacturing facility in 18 countries on the American continent, Europe and Asia. BIMBO produces bread, rolls, cookies, pies as well as packaged goods, tortillas, snacks and pastries. For the Spanish factory Pimad, which belongs to the BIMBO group, a new factory was built, which should have a fully automated intralogistic system. An AGV solution with autonomous pallet trucks from ASTI Mobile Robotics was chosen as part of the Smart Factory. It consists of two pallet trucks that autonomously organize the transport of Euro pallets (dimensions 1200 x 800 mm) between the packaging machines and the warehouse. The aim was to keep the number of transports and distances to be covered in the production as low as possible. In addition, the company expects the AGV to provide an efficient and smooth flow of materials as well as high process reliability.

Initial situation

Production was to be expanded at the Azuqueca de Henares (Guadalajara) site. The decision was therefore taken to build a new factory, which would also be able to embed modern industrial 4.0 technologies. The new Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) were fully integrated in a short project time of only four months.

Project description

The pallet trucks move in the factory hall between the packaging machines and the warehouse. The transport route is interrupted by two automatic doors that open as soon as one of the trucks approaches. The doors are necessary to provide the different enviromental temperatures from 0ºC to 30ºC in the hall. At the packing machines, the pallet trucks pick up the pallets loaded with bread products, which are then placed on conveyor belts. For this purpose, the forks of the transport robot must raise to a height of 500 mm. The pallets are placed on the floor in the warehouse at about 60 material stations, where they are later loaded onto trucks for further transport to the points of sale. The back and forth journey is 360 m.

In total, both pallet trucks transport about 36 pallets per hour. Each truck can carry up to 4 pallets at the same time with a total load of 1,400 kg. The vehicles are used in the production shifts from Monday to Friday as well as during a night shift. The AGV communicates both with the ERP of the facility and with the terminals for order generation and execution. Material movements are recorded and monitored in real time and the status of the system can be visualized at any time.

The pallet trucks move with an average forward speed of 1.2 m/s through the halls. The special feature of the trucks are the extended forks with a length of 2400 mm. This makes it possible to pick up several pallets and reduce the number of transports or transport routes. If desired, the pallet truck can also be operated conventionally like a normal person-driven forklift. To change modes, all the customer needs to do is press a button on the machine’s control panel.

Laser navigation

No markups on the ground are required for navigating in the hall. The vehicles move autonomously to their destination points. Since the hall is very large, wall reflectors were nevertheless installed, which help the AGV’s laser scanners to orientate. The laser scanner enables the determination of the x, y and alpha coordinates of the vehicle with an accuracy of about 5 cm. The coordinates are updated every 50 milliseconds.

In the production environment the vehicles are not alone. Conventional forklifts or workers can cross the path. To prevent accidents, both pallet trucks are equipped with safety laser scanners with warning and protective fields at the front and rear. If an obstacle occurs, the vehicles reduce their speed or stop. Additional emergency stops on the truck are also located on the truck.

Automatic battery change

Another highlight of this project is the battery management system. If the battery level of an AGV drops below a certain limit, the battery management system sends it to the battery change position, where the old lithium-ion battery is replaced. The AGV is automatically equipped with a new full battery.

The new ASTI Mobile Robotics driverless transport system enabled the total automation of the intralogistics in the new Pimad company’s Azuqueca de Henares (Guadalajara) site. This results in many advantages, such as an increase in product quality and process reliability as well as more transparency in all material movements. The driverless transport system can also be easily expanded.

Customer benefits:

  • Short ROI
  • Cost reduction
  • Increase of product quality and process reliability
  • Transport orders are executed precisely, efficiently and safely
  • Individual integration in the production
  • The transport robot fleet is scalable, if production increases occur
  • All material transfers are monitored. Material flow in the company becomes transparent and easy to manage.