The driverless transport system (DTS): Autonomous mobility around the plant
Plant logistics, and especially delivery of the required parts to assembly stations, are a constant challenge. Intelligently networked and flexibly controlled driverless transport systems (DTS) ensure smooth processes.
Another possible DTS application is the flexible connection of two production lines. Such a connection might be necessary for the onward transportation of a vehicle body. Bodies were previously moved from line to line via permanently installed transport stations. Any modifications are therefore expensive and time-consuming. With the use of driverless transport vehicles, however, the body is loaded at the end of one line and transported to the start of the other line as if by magic.
DTS technology is also used for the so-called mobile pickers. This form of parts supply, which can replace fixed-route supply trains in production shops, makes it possible to deliver 'just in time' or 'just in sequence'.
At the Ludwigsfelde Sprinter plant south of Berlin, driverless transport vehicles are already supplying assembly line workers fully automatically with prepared 'shopping baskets' from the logistics and picking areas. One example is door pre-assembly: Where parts containers were once lined up in tight rows along the production line and employees had to find, fetch and install the parts themselves, you now only see the occasional tool wagon and data terminals. Everything else an employee needs to assemble a side door is brought by a driverless transport vehicle in so-called 'carsets' containing the right parts and arriving at the line exactly in sequence with the respective vehicle.
A trailblazing pilot project is also currently underway at the Hungarian Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét, where all materials are brought line-side for final assembly in pre-picked carsets by DTS vehicles. Not only does this eliminate walking distances for personnel, it also means that, at the end, one look into the 'shopping basket' shows whether all parts have been installed - a further simple and effective contribution to quality assurance.