Benefits of 3D plug and play machine vision solutions

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from the manufacturer Transolt move about its customers’ warehouses as if by magic. There’s nothing supernatural at play here, of course, but AGVs do possess a certain kind of technological magic.

AGVs need to see to perform work reliably. Safety issues are also a factor, especially when large loads are being moved. SICK has numerous tried-and-proven safety laser scanners for mobile platforms in its product portfolio. For autonomous forklift trucks, there’s more to it than merely moving things around in a facility. In this case the “eyes” of the robot are the scanners and it needs to detect the location of pallet pockets, even at significant heights, to precisely control storage and retrieval operations. This is an ideal task for the Visionary-T AP 3D snapshot camera and the Key App that SICK has developed especially for this application.

Transolt had been waiting a long time for a solution that allows AGVs to drive around as well as pick up and put down loads with great flexibility.

“Autonomous forklift trucks can only perform tasks in warehouses under the condition that the pallets to be transported are always located at the same angle and within maximum of 20 mm of the predefined position,” said Mahmut Özkan, Managing Director of Transolt. “Real-life conditions in dynamic warehouses are not like this, however. Pallets get inadvertently pushed out of their original positions, stacked on top of one another, or damaged, which can prevent smooth transport processes using automated forklift trucks.”

But with the Pallet Pocket Detection SensorApp running on the Visionary-T AP, Özkan can finally offer his customers in the warehousing and intralogistics industry autonomous forklift trucks as well. This Key App functions directly on the 3D snapshot camera with no further hardware required. That not only saves costs, but also additional programming and integration.

Pallet Pocket Detection SensorApp sharpens the view

This Key App enhances the ability to see gaps. The autonomous forklift truck needs to precisely detect pallet pockets, displaced pallets, and damage. Being able to precisely scan storage spaces and a variety of pallet types is essential for perfectly storing and retrieving loads – even way up in the storage racks. The Pallet Pocket Detection SensorApp provides the data required to do this. It runs directly on the Visionary-T AP 3D snapshot camera. The measured values required to pick up the pallet are pre-processed and evaluated on the sensor, then transmitted to the control system of the automated forklift truck. The 3D camera and vehicle thereby become an inseparable unit thanks to the SensorApp.

“The Visionary-T AP and its Key App scan the pallet and determine the precise position to enable our autonomous forklift truck to always insert the forks into the pallet holes at the right angle and to lift them from the same correct depth,” Özkan said. “Furthermore, the precise geometric data of the Visionary-T provides the basis for our newly developed maneuvering algorithm. With the help of this algorithm, the autonomous forklift truck can pick up pallets that are not located at their predefined position by recalculating the pick-up angle and maneuvering the forks again into the correct orientation.”

SICK AppSpace – the place for the future

The term Industry 4.0 is often used to describe future technologies, but there are also more concrete examples. Machine vision solutions based on the SICK AppSpace ecosystem are taking a real step toward the future of smart manufacturing and digitalization. Pallet Pocket Detection is successful proof of a completely new and adaptive solution to an automation application.

It also works equally well for positioning dollies. The Dolly Positioning SensorApp provides the data needed for this application. It runs directly on the Visionary-T AP 3D vision sensor. The measured values required to automatically pick up the dolly are pre-processed and evaluated on the sensor, then transmitted to the control system of the automated guided vehicle. Thanks to an active developer community, there are numerous custom SensorApps based on intelligent software tools and algorithms being created.

Want more information on Pallet Pocket Detection and other SensorApps from SICK? Contact a SICK representative today!