AbstractA Belgian SME is looking for an intelligent shelve system. Intelligent means that the shelve itself detects whether a compartment (bin) is empty or not. The solution should trigger automatically replenishment of small consumables in a 2 bin FIFO Kanban internal logistics system. The SME is looking for industrial or academic partners to adapt existing technologies to the specific needs or even jointly develop a new solution.
DetailsIn order to have a guaranteed availability at minimal stock level, Kanban systems are often used for the internal logistics in operational environments. In the case of a 2 Bin Kanban, 2 Bins are filled with a predefined number of items of a consumable parts (nuts & bolts, electronic components, subassemblies,…). The operator takes from one bin until it is empty. When the bin is empty, this will trigger an action (manual in classic Kanban, electronic in E-Kanban) for replenishment. While the empty bin is refilled/replaced by a full bin the operator uses the second bin.
The SME currently deploys a system based on the 2 bin Kanban method, which involves scanning the empty bin (equipped with an RFID tag) with an RFID reader to trigger replenishment. The drawback with the current system is that it requires all operators to scan the empty bin when they take the last item, which is not a 100% foolproof system.
The SME is looking for a foolproof solution that will automatically detect when one bin is empty (or the second is “started”) and triggers replenishment.
Technical Specifications / Specific technical requirements:
The items in the bin are small consumables, ranging from diameter 10mm / a few gram up to multiples of 10cm / above 1kg.
Typical cupboard drawer or shelf dimension: +/-35cm x 55cm, item positions on shelves can range from below 4cm x 4cm up to complete drawers or shelves. Shelves in racks can be larger (generally when storing larger items) and may also be divided in multiple item positions.
Hence a drawer or shelf can contain a number of item positions of different dimensions.
The solution should be able to deal with entire shelves and drawers as well as with item positions on these shelves/drawers.
The solution should be flexible, allowing for easy reconfiguration as the layout of shelves and drawers is prone to change (on average 5% to 10% changes on a yearly base).
The solution should NOT imply labeling/tagging individual items, the low cost/size of most small consumables does not justify the associated cost/work.
There is no preferred technology, all detection & identification technologies that do not require manual handling are possible: vision systems, weight systems, contact based systems,…
The technology should preferentially be at least lab or field tested to allow for fast implementation. The technology should not require major capital investment and should not interfere with normal operations. Joint further development and adaptation to specific requirements is possible.