From Zero to a Hundred
Why did warehouse logistics leader KNAPP change the communication technology for its entire range of production logistics to AS-Interface practically overnight? To increase efficiency and productivity? To decrease assembly time during on-site installation? Or because it allows simple and discrete integration of wiring into system components?
"It's all these advantages and more that speak for AS-Interface," says Claus Blödorn from KNAPP. "And with an innovative AS-Interface-specific motor control solution, we've had incredible success."
As a global leader in solutions for warehouse logistics, KNAPP brings tailor-made, state-of-the art solutions to its customers' warehouses. For the company, which has about 3,000 employees and 25 offices worldwide, a key to success has been its unique combination of industry knowledge and technical expertise.
Engineers at KNAPP know that true innovation requires vision. And that's how a recent collaborative development with Pepperl+Fuchs began-with the idea of a modular conveyor system that could be fully preassembled, configured, and tested in-house and then efficiently installed and commissioned at the customer's site.
From vision to reality
The first step toward making their vision a reality was finding a drive module that could be easily installed into the frames of conveyor belts. To find the right solution, KNAPP turned to Pepperl+Fuchs, a globally recognized automation specialist and AS-Interface developer. Together, the two companies developed the G20 series of AS-Interface motor-driver modules and digital modules.
AS-Interface is designed for the sensor-actuator level, the lowest level of automation-but it can be used for more than just simple tasks. It was this fact that ultimately made AS-Interface a clear choice for KNAPP. "At first, we wouldn't have thought that two motors with 8 speeds and 8 acceleration and deceleration ramps could be controlled with just a few bits-and that motor diagnostics and sensor signals could also be transmitted. This is simply ingenious and allows us, above all, to completely pre-assemble our conveyor systems," explains Blödorn.
KNAPP uses a planning tool for efficient system design and segment production planning. Even addressing the G20 modules for sensor and actuator connections is carried out semi-automatically via barcode. Nothing is left to chance, and all segments leave the factory completely pre-tested, without adding any costs. The end result is quick and streamlined installation on site.
"For our customers, this means even more flexibility, faster system commissioning, and decreased project time. It is important that the conveyor system and flat cable installation can be assembled on site quickly and flexibly. External sensors, actuators, and emergency stop buttons must also be connected. For this purpose, the G10 series already offered the perfect solution as a passive distributor, digital module, and safety module with a direct flat cable connection and a footprint of only 30 mm x 40 mm. This module is undefeated to this day. In this respect, we have reinvented the entire conveyor system," says Blödorn.
Streamlined production with AS-Interface
AS-Interface has firmly established itself in logistics solutions and offers additional diagnostic options for commissioning and ongoing operation. If a motor roller fails or draws too much current, this is reported and the affected output is safely switched off. Countless motor rollers all around the world are now using this system.
With AS-Interface, KNAPP has taken its conveyor systems to the next level, and the G20 module is playing a key role. As part of its in-house assembly process, sensors and actuators are connected directly to pre-addressed G20 modules. All that's left to do at the customer's site is the mechanical assembly of conveyor components and cabling. And cabling is simple: the AS-Interface and AUX flat cables are inserted, and the one-piece G20 module is snapped shut.
Because the AS-Interface cable configuration has been defined in advance and is already stored in the gateways, checking the proper functioning of the conveyor elements is the only thing left to be done during commissioning.
"With this innovation, we were able to take on the bulk of the work in house, making assembly on site much more efficient. For KNAPP, the decision to use AS-Interface was spot on," concludes Claus Blödorn.