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Germany’s Magazino Launches Pilot for SOTO Robot at ZF

Magazino SOTO 400x275

February 2, 2022

Germany-based robotics firm Magazino has announced a pilot project with technology group ZF for its SOTO robot. The SOTO mobile robot automates material supplies between a warehouse and assembly line, transporting small load carriers (KLT) completely autonomously.

The pilot project started at the Friedrichshafen site for the transmission assembly of commercial vehicles, and offers both companies the opportunity to gain experience with the robot for live operations. The two companies said they have already had a close development partnership, which includes the prototype of the robot and the gripping mechanism for different small load carriers. The project began in September 2021 and is expected to run for about a year, Magazino said. During the project, a pre-series model of the robot will be used in several presence phases in the production environment of the Friedrichshafen site.

“ZF sees mobile robots such as SOTO as an elementary element for fully automating logistics processes in production, supporting employees and reducing costs,” said Hermann Becker, head of production at ZF in Friedrichshafen. “The goals of the pilot project are that both sides gain experience for later live operation, ZF can contribute its own requirements to the development, and Magazino can further optimize the robot and make its processes more robust.”

Magazino said this will also be the first time the VDA 5050 interface will be implemented on one of its robots. The cross-industry interface primarily helps with higher-level traffic control on the factory floor. Because the SOTO robot will eventually operate in a very busy work environment, it is important for it to keep an overview with other traffic participants, including forklifts, industrial trucks, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and tugger trains.

“The  SOTO robot takes over the transport of an average of more than 10 KLT with material from the automated warehouse to the assembly line,” said Markus Rider, project manager at Magazino. “There, the robot transfers the KLT to flow racks. At the same time, the robot also handles the return transport of empties. The VDA KLT can weigh up to 20 kg and have a footprint of up to 600 x 400 mm. Cameras and sensors allow safe operation alongside humans – the cameras are also used to identify the correct pickup and delivery shelves via data matrix codes.”

Magazino said that while assembly lines in manufacturing are already highly automated, the process of supplying replenishment materials is still predominantly manual. Previous solutions, such as tugger trains or AGVs do not fully automate the process, as manual labor is required in each case for loading or unloading. 

The company said SOTO combines these process steps in a single, fully autonomous solution, by picking up KLT of different sizes, autonomously transporting several of them from source to sink, and then delivering them to flow racks at different heights. Picking up empties and rotating the KLT 90 or 180 degrees is also among the robot’s capabilities. “The combination of these capabilities clearly sets the SOTO robot apart from the market environment, and for the first time enables true end-to-end automation in material supply,” said Magazino.

For more details on Magazino and SOTO, visit its website here.

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