Warehouse Automation

Warehouse Automation

Warehouse automation equipment is used to optimize the operation of warehouse, distribution and fulfillment centers. Equipment can support, partially or fully, with automating the key tasks such as storing, retrieving, and moving inventory.

INTRODUCTION

With Industry 4.0 and the rapid developments in sensors and smart technology, along with the market growth in eCommerce and grocery delivery, warehouse automation is seeing significant growth. By automating transportation, organization, and delivery of materials within the facility, significant optimizations in productivity and delivery can be obtained. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are robots used for internal transportation tasks such as routine material deliveries. Where AGVs need guidance from wires or strips, AMRs are robots with smart navigation and higher flexibility. Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRSs) are systems where robots handle material storage, make smart decisions on material placement and inventory rotation, as well as order fulfillment tasks such as pick up and shipping preparation. In most warehouses though, there will always (for the foreseeable future at least) be robot and human collaboration, and forklifts are still a key piece of equipment in warehouses.

 

At TE, we are enabling many of the trends and developments in forklifts, AGV, AMR, and ASRS through a broad portfolio of board connectivity and relay products, with solutions for Electric Drives, Battery, Charging Stations, and Electric Control Units (ECUs) and Wiring. We can provide you with industry leading motor and battery connectivity solutions and contactors as well as rugged connectivity solutions for vehicle wiring, all from known brands such as AMP, DEUTSCH, KILOVAC, SCHRACK, Potter & Brumfield (P&B), KISSLING, Corcom, ENTRELEC and Intercontec. We can help you stay ahead of miniaturization trends and increasing data requirements through our long experience with high speed and small form factor connectivity. And with our field installable connector solutions you can realize flexible installations to help reduce planning and logistics costs. We have a global manufacturing footprint, logistics and support network enabling global players to source in location worldwide where our field application experts can support in product choice, evaluate architecture, and help you optimize the warehouse equipment in function and cost.

The motor controller (often called inverter or drive) powers and controls the motor in warehouse automation equipment. To enable efficiency and quality control of the motor, fast and reliable connectivity between motor and inverter is needed. Similar as in all factory-based electric drive applications, shock and vibration capability and sealing are important factors at play in warehouse automation equipment such as forklifts, AGVs/AMRs and ASRS. Below you can browse our products for electric drives, specifically engineered to provide reliable connections with high quality, all in a small form factor.

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Modern Li-Ion batteries for Forklift, AGV, AMR and ASRS shuttles consist of battery cells, cell management system (CMS) and a battery management system (BMS). The CMS is responsible for monitoring the cell and balancing charging currents. The BMS monitors the battery status (e.g. charge indication via current sensors) and health (e.g. via temperature measurement), optimizes charging and recharging, connecting and disconnects the load and charger. In warehouse automation, reliability of the driving vehicles is crucial, and they must resist high vibration. Since battery connectors are one of the most vulnerable part in the system, getting rugged, high quality connections is crucial to avoid outages in production. In addition, smaller batteries mean smaller systems and the connections must enable that miniaturization.  Below you can browse our products for Battery Management. These are high quality products, designed and engineered to work in harsh environments with high vibration.

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Where there are batteries, there must be charging. In warehouse automation, speed is key and the various robots operating in a warehouse cannot sit idly for hours on end to power up. Therefore, charging currents tend to be high in warehouses ranging from 40 to 300A. 

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In Forklifts, AMRs/AGVs and ASRS, a multitude of controllers, sensors, actuators and Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) need to be wired together. Forklifts lean on similar harness architecture as automotive applications, and similar voltage and current levels as commercial vehicles. So, harness complexity and environmental condition are similar. AGVs and AMR use a mixed approach between vehicle-type and factory-type wiring since some of the sensor and actuator devices have their roots in factory use cases. For all these systems - sensors, controllers, actuators and HMIs - to work together, the connections between them must be robust and capable to withstand high vibrational loads. For sensors and actuators, interoperability between suppliers and high protection against dust, liquids, vibration is important. Below you can browse our products for ECUs and vehicle wiring. We have designed these products with automation requirements and harsh environments in mind and can offer reliable field installable solutions with push-pull technology, single-pair ethernet (SPE), and multiple connector mounting options (e.g. panel mount and PCB mount) for easy integration in devices.

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