Trumpf’s Track & Trace connected system for intralogistics

“This system allows customers to determine the position of parts within just a few centimetres, enabling them to reduce throughput times on the shop floor and significantly increase their productivity,” says Thomas Schneider, Managing Director Research & Development at Trumpf.

The solution accurately locates sheet metal parts in real time and also tracks and documents the routes they take. That effectively eliminates the annoying and costly task of searching for parts on the shop floor, and it makes it easier to pinpoint express jobs in the production facility and prioritise their fabrication as required. The positioning system works not only for parts, but also for tools.

Track & Trace can also be used with thick walls and metal parts
Conventional positioning systems cannot be used in metal-rich environments such as between machines or in sheet metal storage areas because the signals emitted by the transmitters get corrupted or even completely lost. Trumpf’s Track & Trace solution sidesteps this problem by utilising a robust frequency and by placing tracking devices, referred to as satellites, on the ceiling. These miniature satellites communicate with devices known as markers, which can simply be placed on, or attached to, stacks of parts or load carriers, much like a paper batch of job documents. That enables production workers to track down parts to within just a few centimeters.

“Metal and radio waves are not really very compatible. That’s why it always seemed impossible to achieve this kind of positioning accuracy in sheet metal fabrication. But our ultra-wideband technology can track objects effectively even in environments that contain lots of metal,” says Schneider.

Trumpf has already successfully deployed Track & Trace at customer sites as well as in its own production facilities. The solution is quick to install, simple to use, and easy to integrate in existing manufacturing processes.

Small computer chip in marker holds the key
Track & Trace works using a computer chip installed inside each marker. This chip transmits data to an industrial computer via the satellites, allowing users to access clear information on the part and its location on the computer screen. They can also transmit data back to control the marker, for example displaying the job number or any other information required for the production process on a small ink display.

All the data can also be transferred to smartphones and tablets. Select a job on the screen, and the corresponding marker will respond by emitting a series of light signals, making it quick and easy to identify. This makes Track & Trace one of the first steps in the paperless manufacturing systems of the future.

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