Hybrid tracking enables optimal picking as a team

STILL presents the next step in autonomous order picking with the OPX iGo neo

Hamburg, March 13, 2020 - About three years after their successful introduction STILL's OPX horizontal order pickers are ready for a new adventure. Equipped with the smart iGo neo technology they become autonomous assistants raising the productivity of order pickers in operations with a high pick density to a new level. The ergonomically refined OPX iGo neo make work easier and impress with their intuitive operation and modern design, geared to maximum safety.

In day-to-day operations, companies face the constant pressure of rising costs, shorter order processing times and better delivery quality. In order to continue to meet these pressures, they must adapt their logistics to the constantly changing requirements. To do so, answers must be found to questions such as: 'What do we have to do to remain competitive?' 'How can we put a possible solution into practice in our company?' or 'Who is the most suitable supplier for our desired solution?' These complex questions are answered by the Advanced Applications team of experts with sound industry and logistics expertise. Within the framework of a consulting approach tailored to individual needs, they can, if desired, put existing processes to the test and reveal potential for optimisation. Based on this analysis, they identify options for action and develop a suitable implementation concept. One significant advantage of this is that as a smart full service provider for intralogistics, STILL offers a comprehensive portfolio of integrated manual, automated and autonomous solutions for internal material flow. The application of the respective technologies as well as the degree of automation depends on the current processes, but also on factors such as how the processes might change in the future.

One aspect of this comprehensive consulting service is optimisation in the field of order picking. The key to the most efficient order picking process is to choose the right picking strategy and implement the appropriate picking concept. Once the right strategy has been defined, it is important to develop the right concept, which can be based on an autonomous solution such as the OPX iGo neo.

Increased picking performance through autonomous assistant operation

For intensive operations with a high pick density on the floor and on the first shelf level STILL now offers order pickers fitted with the unique iGo neo technology. This turns the trucks into individual, flexible devices which support the operator in what he still does best, such as the picking during order picking. As independently acting assistants, the OPX iGo neo follow their operator autonomously and always stop at the optimal picking position, thus saving the picker up to 75 percent of energy- and time-consuming mounting and dismounting, while at the same time considerably reducing the distance the operator has to walk under load.

The artificial intelligence integrated into the vehicle ensures that both travel path and speed are adapted to the respective conditions. In addition, the operator can manually adjust the picking distance to the rack and also determine at which of a maximum of four pallet positions the vehicle should stop.

No WiFi is required to operate these vehicles and no installation effort is required to install the system, such as programming routes or adapting the warehouse environment.

"For companies that have already largely optimised their processes, the OPX iGo neo offers a smart way to increase productivity in horizontal order picking while at the same time reducing their employees' workload," explains Erik Düwel, Director Product Management Advanced Applications at STILL. "Companies which still have potential for process optimisation usually even achieve a much higher increase in efficiency".

Peter Kaleck, operations manager of Metro Logistics GmbH in Marl, states: "Using the OPX iGo neo at our largest Metro Logistics GmbH site is extremely efficient, as we have very long picking aisles of over 100 meters and pick 100 percent manually. In initial tests we have already measured performance increases of 10 to 15 percent and we are sure that we can achieve even higher increases in other areas with fewer congestion situations".

Reliable and safe with state-of-the-art technology

The OPX iGo neo interacts reliably with the operator thanks to modern sensor technology of the latest generation and refined communication technology. Before starting work, the operator connects via radio a remote control to the vehicle, which he then only needs to carry with him and is tracked by two systems at the same time - via the hybrid tracking system. This allows the operator to concentrate fully on his work, which minimises picking errors and increases productivity. The hybrid tracking system, which is unique on the market, combines the precision and performance of motion tracking with stable location via radio. This ensures reliable recognition and position tracking of the operator at all times - even during Z-picking and with high traffic volumes in the rack aisle.

As an alternative to the remote control, with which the operator can control the most important functions of the vehicle, these can also be activated using the button panels on the side of the vehicle. Switching to manual operation occurs automatically when the operator mounts the driver's platform.

For maximum safety, a multi-level safety concept protects people, storage equipment and cargo. A pedestrian protection system (PPS) and motion tracking sensors detect all dynamic and static objects within a radius of up to 15 m and in consequence enable a safe situational reaction to obstacles. The vehicle is thus able to drive around them by itself. In addition, the system automatically detects cross-aisles and aisle ends and gently slows the vehicle down when approaching them. The OPX iGo neo only passes such intersections after confirmation from the operator. Additional protection is provided by an optional 3D front camera, which reliably detects obstacles over the entire height of the vehicle. LED signal units ensure excellent visibility of the autonomous vehicle and also indicate which mode it is in or which shelf line it is currently following.

"Ergonomics, accident prevention and performance optimisation are immensely important to us," explains Kaleck. "That's why we are constantly looking for new technologies such as the OPX iGo neo, which not only avoids accidents but also enables an ergonomic flow of movement for the order picker, while simultaneously increasing performance".

Four models for different types of application

In order to provide the right order picker for every application, the STILL OPX iGo neo is available in four different models. This enables the goods to be lifted to an optimum working height and thereby particularly back-friendly order picking, even on up to two Euro pallets. Working in confined spaces and transporting long goods is also no longer a problem thanks to the wide range of models available.

Furthermore, all models can transport extra-wide pallets or trolleys of up to 1,000 mm. They can optionally be equipped with a maintenance-free lithium-ion battery for fast charging and interim charging, high availability and a long battery life.