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Tracking of transport trolleys in production

Working together with RUCH NOVAPLAST to a "Track and Trace" solution

Working together with RUCH NOVAPLAST to a "Track and Trace" solution

At RUCH NOVAPLAST, an innovative company for product solutions made of particle foams, many different products are manufactured as part of a multi-stage production process. The parts to be produced are transported through the different manufacturing stages and downstream buffer areas with the aid of transport carts.
Previously, the transitions from one production stage to the next, or from one production stage to the buffer areas, had not yet been recorded, or had only been recorded using paper-based manual procedures. This led to manual accounting efforts as well as to inaccuracies in data acquisition. Data evaluation was thus only possible to a limited extent or not at all.

In order to increase efficiency and data accuracy in the future, the company decided to automate and digitalize these processes to a large extent. Balluff worked together with RUCH NOVAPLAST to develop a modular and easily expandable overall solution based on middleware and RFID technology developed with the customer.

Added value for customers

RFID transponders on each transport trolley and permanently mounted RFID read/write devices at all production stations automatically detect the trolleys. As soon as one of the transport trolleys reaches the next station, the RFID evaluation unit reports the ID information of the trolley to the Balluff middleware, which operates on an industrial PC and serves as an interface between OT (Operation Technology) and IT (Information Technology). Data is exchanged via hardware-specific protocols, and data is sent to the customer's MES via the standard REST API interfaces of the middleware. The Balluff middleware provides the captured data with a time stamp and sends it to the MES. There, the RFID data is combined with the corresponding machine and production data. As a result, all relevant data for production can be found in one central location.
The data is now collected automatically. In the future, they will form the basis for dynamic displays within the respective manufacturing stage and serve as a data basis for optimizing intralogistics processes and improving resource utilization. In addition, a valuable database is created that can be used to develop important key performance indicators (KPIs) and allow analyses, e.g. on topics such as production flow and speed. The following added values are created for RUCH Novaplast:

  • Digitization: The automatic recording and execution of work step bookings within the defined intralogistics process reduces booking efforts and inaccuracies in data entry.

  • Traceability: Tracking of location, condition and order assignment of internal transport carts leads to the transport carts being at the workstations at exactly the right time, thus avoiding empty runs and backlogs.

  • Visualization: By replacing paper-controlled processes with the help of screens and dynamic displays and networking individual stations, employees get visual feedback of which transport carts are in which operation and can display all process steps of the operation. In addition, training efforts for process adaptations become unnecessary

  • Modularity: The logical and modular structure of the overall system and especially of the software application ensures easy expansion of the system and thus guarantees a quick adaptation and change of the processes.

Project details

Development period (proof of concept, rollout, implementation):
4 months

Products/Technologies:
RFID RF technology, Balluff software development.

Technical requirements:

  • Exact adaptation of Balluff middleware to the existing MES system (MPDV from Hydra), incl. provision of data via REST interface

  • Warning messages within the software application in case of connection problems and hardware failures, as secure data transmission must be guaranteed at all times

  • Temperature resistant hardware (up to 85°C) adapted for the production environment, easy to expand for further expansion stages

Service blocks:
embedded development, backend development, hardware design and integration