Industries

Application report: Laser-based positioning control enhances safety in high-bay warehouses

STILL implements line laser HY from LAP for its reach truck to visually support drivers when picking up loads

Line laser XtrAlign HY from LAP on the STILL FM-X 20 HD reach truck

The positioning laser with a green laser diode is mounted between the fork arms on the fork carriage.
Photo: ©Eric Shambroom Photography

The Hamburg intralogistics specialist STILL has implemented for the first time the XtrAlign line laser HY from LAP for the reach truck FM-X 20 HD. The laser allows for positioning the forks at the exact height. This enables drivers to pick-up pallets at a height of up to 13 meters in warehouses even more precisely, safely and quickly. The laser-based position control contributes to increased safety in logistics operations and helps to prevent damage to the goods.

Visual control of the fork position at a height of 13 meters

"Maximum safety" – that was a topmost requirement of a customer and the reason why STILL was looking for a laser positioning solution for the FM-X 20 HD reach truck. Representing the largest reach truck model in the STILL product family, the FM-X 20 HD is specially designed for the handling of pallets in high-bay warehouses, logistics centers or cold stores. With a lifting height of 13 meters, it can lift up payloads of remarkable 2,000 kilograms at speeds of up to 0.50 m/s. Storing and retrieving pallets safely in the smallest of spaces is a matter of millimeters! Thus, a laser-based control of the fork position should give visual aid to the truck drivers when picking up the loads. As for the laser technology, the choice fell on the robust XtrAlign line laser HY from LAP.

Laser guides the driver safely to the destination

The HY positioning laser from LAP is mounted on the fork carriage between the fork arms and projects a horizontal green laser line, which is visible on the forks and the load carrier. The laser line thus serves as a visual reference for the driver to precisely position the fork arms at the target height. A camera installed on the inner side of the fork transmits the situation to a terminal in the cab. Even without the fork arms being visible, drivers can see clearly on the monitor whether the exact position has been reached to pick up a pallet, even at great heights. This avoids unnecessary maneuvering and the risk of the driver bumping into the load carrier and possibly damaging goods. "At a distance of 13 meters, it is hardly possible for the driver to recognize the exact position with the naked eye. The laser technology, in combination with the camera, provides the operator with a very effective visual support”, explains Frank Krahwinkel, responsible for Customer Options – CDWRS, Product Development Warehouse Reach Truck at STILL in Hamburg.

Increased safety for staff and goods

"The laser automatically activates from a height of five meters. Lower altitude is not required in this case. As an alternative, the truck driver can turn the line laser on and off by hand at the preset lift height“, continues the Product Developer. To the driver, a laser-assisted control of the fork position provides enhanced safety and relieves him in the everyday logistics operation. From the perspective of the storage manager, this means that damage to the goods can be avoided. Moreover, processes can be accelerated. In conclusion, the reduction of time, costs and risks contributes to improving the overall efficiency.

Robust laser technology, suitable for warehouse operations

The robust line laser technology offers many benefits for harsh warehouse environments. It has been specifically designed to withstand roughest industrial applications and has proven itself worldwide in the tire, steel or woodworking industries. The stainless steel housing is sealed against water and dust in accordance with IP 67. With IK 10, the laser also fulfills the highest degree of protection for shock resistance to guard the laser source against external mechanical impacts. For implementation on the FM-X 20 HD, STILL chose the XtrAlign HY positioning laser with a green laser source, a power output of 15 mW, and a range of up to 10 meters. The green laser lines are clearly visible even against dark backgrounds. The laser diode also has a service life of over 30,000 hours and the laser is inherently maintenance-free. Furthermore, the optics are manually focusable so the laser can be set to specific customer requirements, e.g. fork length, during installation in high-bay warehouses.

Lively demand right after first installation

At STILL, it is the first realization ever of a laser-based position control on a forklift truck: "The implementation of the laser technology on the reach truck is a premiere for us," says Frank Krahwinkel. It has been realized in close collaboration with the STILL specialists who took care of the smooth interaction of all components, laser technology, camera, height sensor, and hydraulics. Wolfgang Mönke, responsible for STILL's Customer Options Lift Masts, states: "Thanks to the standard mounting, the laser can easily be installed and connected to the onboard electronics. Only the installation situation on the fork carrier and the vehicle-specific properties, such as the tilting of the fork or the traverse moving of the mast, needed to be taken into account. We have accomplished this task successfully."

Six additional reach trucks equipped with positioning lasers from LAP will soon be delivered - and new inquiries for the laser technology are beginning to pile up. Wolfgang Mönke has therefore also the medium-term future in mind: "Safety becomes a more and more important issue in intralogistics operations. If the laser positioning system successfully proves in practice we can imagine offering it as an add-on option upon customer's request also for our other trucks."

About LAP

LAP is a worldwide leader in the field of laser-based systems for projection and non-contact measurement. For more than 30 years, LAP has developed, manufactured and distributed laser measuring systems, line lasers and laser projectors for industry and medicine. Numerous international industrial corporations rely on precision technology „Made in Germany“ for improvement of the quality of their products and the effectiveness of their production processes.
www.lap-laser.com

About STILL

STILL offers customized intralogistics solutions, and implements the intelligent teamwork of forklift trucks and warehouse technology, software and services. The achievement created by the Company’s founder Hans Still in 1920 through a large amount of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and quality quickly developed into a strong brand well-known throughout the world. Today around 8,000 qualified staff in research and development, production, marketing and service are involved for the sole purpose of fulfilling customers’ needs throughout the whole world. The keys to the company’s success are highly efficient products ranging from sector-specific complete offers for large and small enterprises to computer-assisted logistics programs for efficient warehouse and materials flow management. Please also visit STILL on the Internet at www.still.de or on Facebook www.facebook.com/still.

Download the PDF version of the application report and read the full story.
Images: ©Eric Shambroom Photography