Modula: the 4.0 product in a smart 4.0 factory

modula-2At a time when the computerisation of businesses and the human-data interchange is more and more important, the solution is an automated factory and the Modula VLM represents a solid response to the 4.0 approach. Modula is a VLM based on the idea of taking back floor space and converting it into vertical space. To give you a concrete example, an 840 sqm warehouse becomes just 14 m2 of floor space and a vertical distribution of 16 metres height, giving you a compact and lean factory which has its workers in mind.

So, the principle behind these VLMs is goodsto-man and not man-togoods, avoiding long journeys on foot for operators, human errors, incomplete picking lists and physical effort. Picking is actually automated, so operators avoid having to perform unnecessary moves to reach the products. Access to Modula VLMs is completely computerised via a graphic touch screen user interface with colour display and intuitive icons that simplify the learning process for operators.

The uses for a Modula VLM are wide and varied. For example, they can be used as automatic dispensers that provide assembly areas with the materials needed on the production line.

modula-3Or they can be set up as a store, or used as a buffer for the production line or as a spare parts warehouse. Whatever the operator’s “role”, they no longer have to inspect shelving to find the materials they are looking for: it’s the system itself that finds the materials, records stock levels and issues repeat orders whenever necessary. Here’s another feature: the vertical shelving is modular and potentially infinitely expandable. The savings a business can make by adopting an intra-logistics system like this are huge and there are various VLM models with different specifications.

It starts with the minimal footprint of the Modula Slim which has a depth of less than 1.6 metres, and goes go up to the Modula OneTon with a tray and bay width of 4100 mm and a payload per tray of 990 kg!

Storage solutions also include an internal bay that constitutes the ideal solution for companies needing to minimise their use of floor space, whilst the external bay offers an excellent ergonomic workspace for operators having to pick heavy products.

VLMs can then be connected to anthropomorphous robots, lifting equipment, zero-weight cranes and other automation systems to create a lean, compact factory able to communicate with other systems and automated devices.

While manual solutions could handle 40 order lines per day, now with Modula this can be 500.

VLMs transform the whole process: in the past, operators had to use a ladder to reach a component, hold on tight at a height of 3 metres, keep track of the event with picking slips and then record it all afterwards.

A simple operation like this would require 4 people, while today you need only half that number.

modula-5However, the most important revolution is that these VLMs are equipped with a Modula Cloud device that means you can receive incoming warning signals when any faults in the machine are detected, keeping the customer informed in real time and providing adequate support for preventive maintenance activities. This exchange of information will be essential in the factory of the future. This is an added value that makes it possible to collect and monitor, in the Cloud, all data associated with the VLMs in order to keep track of their operation at all times and provide a service whose goal is to consolidate the relationship between company and customer, resulting in benefits both for the Modula production process and also for the customer. The result is that the Modula system processes a large amount of data that can then be transmitted to help people use the systems, or intervene in real time in the event of improper use, or provide information well in advance of the next maintenance task.

Modula in the Beverage industry

If you are wondering how a business operating in the beverage sector can make use of the benefits of a Modula VLM, it will be made easier by relating the story of Vonpar Refrescos, one of the largest Coca Cola bottling companies in Brazil, with a production unit in Porto Alegre (RS) supplying the areas of Rio Grande do Sul (RS) and Santa Catarina (SC).

At its production site where it bottles all Coca-Cola products on a continuous production line running 24/7, changing equipment and dies on the bottle filling line is a routine activity within the production process. Traditionally, these equipment and dies, which are very heavy items, were stored on high, inconvenient and bulky shelving units spread right across the factory.

Operators had to load them manually on to trolleys to move them around and bring them to the machine, change them over and then bring the replaced items back to the shelves, wasting lots of time looking for and transporting the pieces and requiring lots of physical effort from the operators. With the installation of a Modula VLM Model ML50D at 9.5 m in height and with a payload of 500 kg per tray, fitted with the Trolley (tray extraction and transport device), the equipment and dies could now be stored much closer to the production line, reducing the time needed to locate and transport them. With the Trolley, the physical effort required of operators is reduced to zero and so is the possibility of picking errors. Each replacement set is mapped to a single tray and can be retrieved by calling that tray. This was not the only option chosen by Vonpar, as they also fitted their Modula system with an Automatic Door to protect the stored equipment from dust and external contamination.

modula-6The possible applications don’t stop here: many bottling plants have chosen Modula to store their labels, mapping them tray by tray and retrieving them just in time for production. Where before operators would have to go in search of the correct label and pack, now with one click they can manage the entire set of labels, keeping them safe from, amongst other things, dust, dirt and damage, and making it very easy to carry out an inventory.

Considering that access to traditional warehouses and shelving units was not controlled, with Modula however this can be done via a specific login and password or just using a company security badge or EKS.