Saturday, May 25, 2024

Swarm solution for load transportation

Old production machines have to be replaced due to changing needs or updated machines. Moving heavy and bulky loads like machinery and equipment takes much time and effort. However, the heavyweight and limited plant space make large machines very difficult to assemble, disassemble, or replace. This work is mainly done manually or using heavy-duty rollers.

To overcome this problem, a spinoff of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), FORMIC Transportsysteme, has developed FORMIC25, a semi-automatic transportation system that can move heavy loads of various sizes and weights safely and with high precision.

FORMIC25, a modular transport system, can move heavy loads of various sizes and weights safely and precisely. These vehicles can facilitate the transportation of bulky and heavy goods.

FORMIC’s system consists of several independently operated vehicles that can be arranged on a load as required. That vehicle can pick up the load in a synchronized manner and then move it in formation.

Each module can bear up to 2.5 tonnes of weight, and up to 15 modules can be coupled together, meaning it can bear up to 27.5 tonnes of weight with all the modules. The special lifting mechanism of the modules allows even floor-level loads with a minimum 25mm underride height to be lifted and then moved. These vehicles are linked by radio and equipped with cameras for self-coordination and synchronous operation.

“Our system consists of several separately driven vehicles. Together, they can lift a weight of up to 40 tons and move it semi-automatically,” says Dr. Maximilian Hochstein from KIT’s Institute for Materials Handling and Logistics (IFL). Up to 15 vehicles can be coupled for the transportation of heavy loads. “They are connected by radio and equipped with cameras for self-coordination and synchronous acting,” Hochstein says.

“Machines and goods of various dimensions and weights can be lifted comfortably by a single person and moved remotely,” says Dr. Benedikt Klee from KIT’s Institute of Production Science. “Although joystick control works manually, commands are then obeyed automatically. The load is lifted from the ground and then moved flexibly,” Klee says. “For transporting a typical production machine in manufacturing industries, three vehicles are sufficient.”

FORMIC25 is expected to launch in the coming months.

FORMIC is supported by the EXIST startup grant, the funding program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection to fund startups in science, and the KIT founding forge.