Autonomous Factories Responding to Customer Demand
As consumers become more demanding, the pressure propagates up the supply chain. Manufacturing companies are required to respond to demands faster and with more tailored and customized products build on modular platforms. Manufacturing used to primarily be an efficiency game, but now these additional demands are on agility. And it is extremely challenging to develop both efficiency and agility at the same time.
Many manufacturing companies are trying to cope with these demands with at least these three courses of action:
- Configurable factories. Being able to redesign the factory floor and arrangements flexibly and on demand.
- Increased automation and robotics within the factory. Especially with mobile robots that can navigate in all the possible factory configurations.
- Integrated supply chains, where the automation is extended to the boundary of the factory and the manufacturing company. These include automated freight operations for material deliveries and good pickups.
Being able to implement any of these courses of action has many challenges including connectivity. How can my mobile robots get information where to go next, if they move beyond my factory walls and the layout is different every week?
Multichannel routering as implemented by Goodmill Systems is a key technology that in many cases solves some of the hardest connectivity challenges related to these the challenges outlined above. A multichannel router combines several existing separate IP-based networks into a single logical connection that has the combined reliability, coverage, and even to an extent throughput of the underlying networks. The networks can even be several identical networks if the aim is to remove such a single point of failure.
For example, by improving the reliability by an order of magnitude, wireless connectivity can be used in a situation, where previously reliability requirements dictated that only a wireline connection was applicable. Some of the most extreme cases include time synchronized movements of multiple robots. Moving to wireless connectivity means that redesigning the shop floor can be done based on the process requirements instead of being dictated by the existing wiring of the building. A key step towards a configurable factory.
Second, mobile robots naturally rely on wireless connectivity. A multichannel approach allows them to move freely between the coverage areas of different networks extending their area of operations. Similarly, this means that the network investments can be done more freely with different technologies used for different kind of areas. The robots can even be routed through a better connectivity area, when there are software updates to be downloaded or large amounts of data have been gathered from areas with weaker connectivity and are awaiting upload.
Finally, as one can seamlessly also rely on commercial connectivity, the coverage area of your solutions can extent to the supply chain and ecosystem outside your factory walls.
- Wireless connectivity on the level of reliability traditionally thought to be possible only with wired connections.
- Reliability and freedom of maneuver for mobile robotics.
- Possibility to build new use cases on existing networks with low investment needs.
- Seamless ability to integrate into the supply chain with commercial and other 3 rd-party networks.