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7th August 2017, Schwaig

Puma to run ‘world’s first’ intelligent warehouse

Puma, German multinational designer and manufacturer of athletic and casual footwear, apparel and accessories, has initiated the pilot project called TORU to create what it calls the “first intelligent and decision-making warehouse in the world”.

The project team, which includes logistics service provider ITG, mobile robots developer Magazino, and software manufacturer Gigaton, has been working on this project since the end of July 2016. The project aims to test the TORU warehouse robot at ITG’s logistic centre in Schwaig, Germany, working together with the sports brand Puma. In the Logistics Center that ITG operates for the Puma retail stores, an order-picking robot has been in use since May 2017.

Puma, ITG, Gigaton and Magazino implement joint pilot project. © ITG

One of the goals of this pilot project is to test the robot in practical application, prove its efficiency, stability and consistency in daily use, and the maturity of the technology in real world conditions. Different scenarios will be presented in order to gain insight on what the ideal environment for the technology looks like.

TORU learns while picking

The advantage of TORU is that it can provide precise access to individual objects, and not just standardised loading units like trays or boxes, according to the manufacturer. The adaptive picker arms can grasp different cue-shaped objects – from a small paperback book to a shoe box or a heavy dictionary – and then place the object on its shelf and bring it directly to the shipping station.

The hardware, which is equipped with conveyor technology, is based on the elements, which have been proven to work in similar working environments with success. Meanwhile, the software that connects the technology with the sensors, makes the robot perception-controlled. Thanks to cameras, computer vision, numerous sensors, and the use of artificial intelligence, the robot can perceive and interpret its environment and make decisions on that basis. This is said to allow permanent adjustments to the warehouse topology and the use of the robot in work environments alongside people, as well as to let the system learn independently.

The cooperation between man and machine is ensured with numerous sensors on the robot, which continuously record data about the environment. If TORU gets too close to someone, it reduces its speed and then stops its movements. The system has been inspected by the German employers' liability insurance association in order to guarantee workplace safety.

Cooperation between man and machine

A major benefit is that the robot can be used outside of working hours. TORU doesn't need the warehouse lighting, as it has integrated headlights and can light its work environment itself. What is particularly innovative is the agile system design: the robot can be used in other departments without additional expense, and automatically familiarises itself with them. This flexibility provides great added value, the company reports.

Live operation with TORU is expected to start in September, once the robot technology is linked with the LogoS external warehouse management system from Gigaton, and the first positive tests and a brief familiarisation period are completed.

www.itg.de

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