THINGtelligence - New outlooks for material flow systems and retrofit projects in the "Internet of Things"

The product THINGtelligence by Lanfer CARGO-TECHNIK wins the prestigious "Best Product" Award in the category "Procurement, Transport, Storage" on Logimat 2010.  The innovative product THINGtelligence is the first to offer users the possibility to industrially implement the "Internet of Things" and starting up their plants quick and safely.

The system was developed by the company Lanfer CARGO-TECHNIK with headquarters in Borken Weseke in cooperation with
Logata Digital Solution GmbH to control the container conveyance within intralogistics according to the concept of the "Internet of Things". It is build around parameterisable mechantronic systems which facilitate the direct, decentralized control of the standardized conveyor elements.  Thanks to these elements plants can be implemented, modernized and changed considerably quicker and much more flexibly than with traditional technologies because the classical material flow computer can completely be abandoned. THINGtelligence is based on the basic research of the Fraunhofer-Institute for Material Flow and Logistics and the software agent technology by Logata Digital Solution GmbH.

THINGtelligence - technical specifications

The basic mechanical parts consist of bi-directional, straight and multi-flexing conveyor elements with integrated light barriers which register the occupancy status as well as converters and deflectors. Thanks to a uniform grid dimension and the continuous use of a standard bus system plants can be designed modularly. The continuous use of bi-directional conveyor elements allows for plants which despite of their compact design offer highly flexible movements and alternative routes.

Each module where route decisions are made is equipped with an IPC controller and an UHF RFID antenna for the container identification. An abstraction level offers the alternative option of a barcode reader so that possibly existing technologies can be used.

On the controller realtime-capable sequencers or finite state machines are implemented in IEC1131. Furthermore, each controller has its own intelligent software agent for routing, communication and event handling. Thanks to the reusable software modules the implementation is much easier than with a classical SPS programming. Since each controller is equipped with a standardised web service interface it is able to transmit status information to a central control station via a direct connection. An emulation interface allows for a virtual commissioning. Prior to the commissioning the software agents can be tested individually or as a group without the mechanical components. With this procedure errors can be identified already in preparation of the commissioning so that existing plants don't have to be adapted during the start-up phase.

The commissioning of a THINGtelligence-plant is more efficient than that of a traditional plant with a central material flow computer because iterative and incremental partial commissioning processes can be carried out off-site to reduce the commissioning time on site.