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Black and white portrait, with rounded image, of Maximilian Linardi, Sales Specialist OEM Sensors Central Europe at HBK. Max is one of the experts for the OEM Solution Day 2023, which take place on the 21st and 22nd of March at the HBK in Darmstadt, Germany
Maximilian Linardi

Sales Specialist OEM Sensors Central Europe

Working as a sales engineer with customers all around the globe, Max has years of experience in various sectors including automation, robotics, and the medical industry. In 2020, Max joined HBK and is now part of the OEM Custom Sensor team, supporting OEM clients with their challenges.

Which industries have effectively implemented AGV/AMR technology?

AGV/AMR technology has been successfully adopted across a variety of sectors. Industries like manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics are really taking advantage of these robots to streamline their operations. In manufacturing, for example, AGVs are being used to move materials around the factory floor, optimising production processes and reducing manual labour.

In the e-commerce world, companies are using AMRs to speed up order fulfillment in their warehouses. These robots are pretty cool because they can navigate through the aisles, pick up items, and deliver them to packing stations, all autonomously.

Healthcare is another sector where AGV/AMRs are making a big impact. Hospitals are using them to transport supplies and medication between different departments, helping to improve efficiency and free up staff to focus on patient care.

Even in agriculture, we’re seeing AGV/AMRs being used for tasks like crop harvesting and spraying. It’s fascinating to see how technology is transforming traditional industries like farming. Overall, it’s an exciting time to be an engineer working with AGV/AMR technology. There are so many opportunities to innovate and make a real difference across a wide range of sectors.

 

What are the main challenges engineers face during the development of AGV/AMR, especially regarding sensor integration?

When developing AGV/AMR systems, integrating sensors poses one of the major challenges for product engineers. These automated systems rely heavily on accurate and reliable sensors to perceive their environment and navigate safely. However, effectively integrating these sensors goes beyond simply installing them on the robot’s chassis. It’s more about carefully merging overall design and specific functionalities of the AGV/AMR.

The main challenge lies in finding a delicate balance between the diversity of data captured by the sensors and their compatibility with the mechanical and electronic constraints of the robots. This requires creating solutions that not only ensure precise environmental perception but also seamlessly integrate with other system components.

Among the specific challenges encountered in designing sensors for AGV/AMR are the need to accurately detect human presence and obstacles while maintaining reliable and durable operation despite vibration and environmental constraints. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that these solutions remain economically viable while delivering optimal performance.

Furthermore, it’s essential to consider the requirements for regular maintenance and ensure the robustness of the sensors to maintain consistent performance in a variety of operational environments, sometimes challenging ones. In conclusion, successful integration of sensors into AGV/AMR systems requires a holistic approach and in-depth expertise to effectively address these multiple challenges.

 

What are some of the most commonly used sensors in AGV and AMR applications, and how do these choices vary depending on specific functions and robot requirements?

 In AGV and AMR applications, a variety of sensors are employed to fulfill their functionalities, including lidars (light detection and ranging), laser scanners, cameras, proximity sensors, and load sensors. The choice of sensors varies depending on the specific needs and requirements of robots in different operational contexts.

In the logistics domain, lidars and laser scanners are pivotal for mapping warehouses and detecting obstacles, enabling robots to navigate autonomously in complex and dynamic environments. Cameras play a crucial role in object recognition and precise localisation of goods, facilitating efficient handling of items and contributing to the optimisation of logistics operations.

Proximity sensors are indispensable for detecting obstacles in the path of robots, thereby avoiding collisions and ensuring safe navigation, particularly in confined spaces where precision is paramount.

Moreover, load sensors, although often overlooked, play a vital role in controlling the manipulation of loads by robots. They accurately measure the force exerted during grasping, transporting, and depositing goods, ensuring efficient and secure handling. These sensors optimise logistics operations by enabling AGVs and AMRs to interact intelligently and autonomously, especially in functions such as load distribution monitoring, weight measurement and picking, drive control, and optimised navigation.

Future Technology 3D Concept: Automated Retail Warehouse AGV Robots with Infographics Delivering Cardboard Boxes in Distribution Logistics Center. Automated Guided Vehicles Goods, Products, Packages

Whitepaper: Advanced Sensor Technology to enhance efficiency and safety in AGVs and AMRs

Discover how to enhance efficiency and safety in Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) with our comprehensive whitepaper on Advanced Sensor Technology.

In your experience, what are the most common challenges encountered in the design of load sensors for AGVs and AMRs, and how are these challenges addressed, particularly regarding space efficiency and handling multiple loads?

In our experience, designing custom load sensors based on strain gauges for AGV and AMR applications presents several common challenges, particularly in optimising space, managing multiple loads, and ensuring compatibility with the specific mechanical constraints of the robots. These challenges demand innovative approaches to ensure reliable performance and successful sensor integration in dynamic environments. Here’s how we tackle these challenges:

 

  • Space optimisation: Space is often limited in AGV and AMR environments, which can pose constraints on integrating load cells. Our engineers excel in designing functional load cells even in the tightest spaces. Leveraging advanced design techniques and a deep understanding of geometric constraints, we optimise the use of available space
  • Managing multiple loads: AGV and AMR systems are frequently tasked with handling diverse loads, requiring robust and versatile sensors. We engineer custom sensors capable of accurately measuring multiple loads, considering their weight, distribution, and dynamics. This capability ensures safe and efficient load handling, regardless of type or weight
  • Compatibility with mechanical constraints: Sensors must withstand the mechanical constraints encountered in AGV/AMR environments. We employ lightweight yet durable materials and advanced manufacturing techniques to ensure sensor robustness and longevity. Additionally, we tailor the mechanical characteristics of sensors to seamlessly integrate with the specific requirements of robots, ensuring reliability and longevity

 

Furthermore, we offer tailored solutions to address the specific needs of each application:

 

  • Tailored output signals and interfaces: We provide a wide range of output signals and interfaces, including analog and digital interfaces, enabling seamless integration into existing systems
  • Customised protection concepts: We offer various protection solutions, such as coatings, covers, and hermetic seals, to ensure sensor operation in diverse environmental conditions. These solutions are specifically tailored to the requirements of each application, ensuring reliable and consistent performance over time

 

How does Finite Element Analysis (FEA) contribute to optimising the design of sensors for AGV/AMR robots?

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a crucial asset in optimising the design of sensors for AGV/AMR robots. By utilising this advanced simulation technique, we can model the structural behaviour of sensors in a variety of operational conditions.

FEA allows us to virtually explore sensor performance under different loads, vibrations, and environments, revealing excessive stresses, potential deformations, and potential points of failure. This ability to simulate sensor behaviour provides valuable insights into its performance in real-world scenarios.

By identifying stress zones and weak points through FEA, we can iterate quickly on designs, testing different configurations and materials to enhance sensor robustness and durability. This approach enables us to optimise the design even before creating a physical prototype, resulting in time and cost savings in development.

By adjusting the sensor design based on FEA results, we can enhance its resistance to mechanical and environmental stresses, ensuring reliability and accuracy in various operational conditions. This contributes to improving the quality and safety of AGV/AMR robot operations.

In conclusion, FEA is an essential tool for optimising sensor design for AGV/AMR robots. Through this approach, we can detect and address potential issues early in the design process, leading to sensors that are more efficient, reliable, and perfectly suited to the specific requirements of these advanced robotic applications.

What are the essential requirements typically mentioned in the specifications document for sensors adapted to AGV/AMR robots?

When it comes to designing sensors tailored for AGV/AMR robots, the specifications outlined in the requirements document are pivotal for ensuring optimal performance and seamless integration within robotic systems. Here are the key specifications typically highlighted:

  • Physical specifications: This encompasses details regarding the sensor’s size, shape, dimensions, weight, and mounting configuration, ensuring proper integration within the available space on the robot
  • Force or torque measurement range: Defines the upper and lower limits of forces or torque that the sensor can accurately measure, tailored to the specific load and manipulation requirements of AGV/AMR operations
  • Output sensitivity and accuracy: Refers to the sensor’s ability to detect minimal variations in force or torque and generate precise, reliable output data, enabling precise control over the robot’s movements
  • Repeatability, hysteresis, and linearity: Describes the consistency of the sensor’s measurements during repeated movements, its ability to consistently respond to changes in load, and the accuracy of its response relative to linear force or torque variations
  • Creep: Addreses the sensor’s long-term deformation under constant load, emphasizing the importance of minimal creep to maintain precise and stable measurements over time
  • Operating and storage temperature ranges: Specifes the environmental conditions in which the sensor can reliably operate, including extreme temperatures encountered in certain industrial environments
  • Temperature coefficients of sensitivity (TCS) and zero (TCZ): Indicates how the sensor’s measurement properties vary with temperature changes, allowing for appropriate compensation to ensure consistent performance in various thermal conditions
  • Shock and vibration resistance: Sensors must be robust enough to withstand harsh working conditions, including shocks and vibrations that may occur during AGV/AMR movement
  • Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC): Ensures the sensor is designed to operate reliably in electromagnetically noisy environments without interfering with other electronic equipment
  • Communication interfaces: Essential for the sensor to have communication interfaces compatible with robot control systems, facilitating integration and data exchange with other components of the robotic system

In summary, the requirements document for sensors tailored to AGV/AMR outlines a set of critical specifications necessary to meet the demands of load, precision, durability, and environmental compatibility within the industrial robotic usage context.

 

Could you elaborate on the innovation process involved in the development of custom OEM sensors for AGV and AMR – from the initial concept phase to mass production – and how close collaboration with clients ensures the successful realisation of customised sensor solutions?

Let me walk you through the innovation journey involved in crafting custom OEM sensors for AGV and AMR, from inception to full-scale production, and how our close partnership with clients ensures the seamless realisation of bespoke sensor solutions.

  • Concept phase: Our process begins by thoroughly understanding the specific requirements of our clients. We engage in close collaboration to precisely define the parameters and explore potential design avenues that align with their needs
  • Design phase: Once the specifications are crystallised, our adept team of design engineers springs into action. Leveraging cutting-edge modelling and simulation techniques, we iteratively refine the designs to perfection. We meticulously select materials and circuitry for the integrated electronics, ensuring optimal functionality and performance
  • Prototype phase: This is where ideas take tangible form. Our globally distributed competence and manufacturing centres meticulously craft prototypes based on the refined designs. These prototypes serve as a starting point and are meticulously honed based on client feedback and evolving requirements
  • Mass production phase: With validated designs and refined prototypes in hand, we transition into mass production. Thanks to our extensive global production network, we swiftly and efficiently scale up production to meet client demands. Quality remains paramount throughout, with each sensor undergoing rigorous testing to ensure adherence to the highest standards before delivery

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