Does this sound familiar?
- The palletiser is at a standstill because the forklift driver is not bringing empty pallets.
- The worker often has to call the forklift driver several times until he reaches him to bring or pick up required goods.
- The forklift driver constantly has to drive around to see if he has to transport goods from one workstation to another workstation.
- Residual materials remain in production for far too long because the forklift driver does not realise that he has to dispose of them.
You're no doubt familiar with such situations – and probably many more.
We too have noticed these problems with many of our customers. In conversations with our customers, the desire to “have something simple” and requests like “please, no complex forklift control system”, came up again and again.
It should be more flexible than a simple forklift call, but it should not be as rigid and complicated as a classic forklift control system. Moreover, it should be very easy to configure. And of course, your own personnel should be able to carry out all the work.
Some examples of our customers’ wishes:
- A forklift (under certain circumstances a very specific forklift) should be able to reach a certain position at the “push of a button”. The worker discusses the remaining details with the forklift driver at this position.
- At the “push of a button” or by a “level sensor”, a forklift – possibly a very specific forklift – is to be assigned a transport order for the disposal of residual materials.
- A transport order from load carriers to the next processing cell is to be generated on the basis of a signal from a PLC.
- On the basis of signals from PLCs, allocations of pallets of different types and quantities are to be created.
- A provision transport for a certain material is to be created on the basis of information from a PLC or an MES.
- Forklift drivers are sometimes also responsible for supervising the pallet conveyor systems. Therefore, you should also be informed about conveyor belt malfunctions.
- Forklift groups should be supported.
- There should be a reporting system to support the in-house continuous improvement process (CIP)
To enable you to perform these tasks automatically and efficiently, we develop a highly flexible and very easy-to-use solution. We call our product TAMAS. The name is an acronym derived from “Task Management System”.
TAMAS is an Industry 4.0 solution. TAMAS uses the most modern possibilities of app and web technologies and connects them with the classic world of automation.
TAMAS is a software tool that runs on a PC and as an app on employees' smartphones and forklift terminals. In this way, TAMAS automates and optimises the cooperation between machines and humans and between humans and humans alike.
For this purpose, TAMAS integrates the staff into the processes of a production company in an extremely intelligent and yet simple way. Regardless of whether you produce manually, semi-automatically or fully automatically. In any case, you and your employees will benefit from the improved teamwork that TAMAS automatically creates.
The working principle
A production plant contains many locations where transport and handling tasks arise that a forklift driver or worker has to attend to. Some of the information is generated in control systems, some in manufacturing execution systems (MES), while in other cases the worker has to press a button or trigger a transfer order directly on his smartphone at the touch of a button; alternatively, the order may come from SAP or another manufacturer's ERP.
TAMAS consists of a server program, a configuration interface, a user interface for PCs and the TAMAS app for smartphones and forklift terminals.
After TAMAS has been installed on the server, you parametrise “order templates” for transport orders and handling orders. In doing so, you are also configuring the desired forklifts and forklift groups. You also connect TAMAS with your desired control systems (PLC) by pure parametrisation. Your control systems can then start to monitor the transport orders and handling orders you have configured.
Starting transport orders and handling tasks
To help you better imagine the start of a transport or handling task, I have listed some examples here:
- The empty pallets of a palletiser are running out. The PLC reports the demand to TAMAS via OPC with the pallet type and required quantity. TAMAS starts the replenishment task you have parametrised and automatically reports this task with the pallet type and the required quantity to the responsible forklift driver.
- A container for residual materials is full. The worker presses a permanently mounted button near the container. The PLC reports the source location to TAMAS via OPC, optionally also with the material to be disposed of and the load carrier type. Alternatively, the “button” can send the information directly to TAMAS via WLAN. TAMAS starts the parametrised task for disposal of the full container and automatically reports this to the responsible forklift driver, specifying the source location, the material to be disposed of and the required load carrier type. This way, the forklift driver can immediately bring along a new empty load carrier.
- A processing cell has produced enough parts for one load carrier. The worker presses a button on an operator panel. The PLC or MES reports this to TAMAS with the source location, target location, optionally also with the ID of the load carrier, material number, production order number, etc. TAMAS automatically reports the transport order with the source, destination and material information to the correct forklift driver.
- SAP EWM or an ERP of another manufacturer starts a transfer order to transport a load carrier from the source to the destination. This creates a transport order in TAMAS, which is automatically assigned to the correct forklift driver.
- Employees can also start parametrised transport tasks in the TAMAS app directly at the push of a button. TAMAS automatically reports the task to the correct forklift.
- The conveyor system goes into fault mode. TAMAS reads the information from the PLC via OPC. TAMAS starts a troubleshooting task and automatically reports the location and fault text to the responsible forklift driver.
In addition, there are many other locations where the use of TAMAS can significantly improve processes, e.g. disposing of production machines and lines, re-storage of surplus raw materials, replenishment of various materials for production, warnings and fault messages when the paper supply for EAN label printers or stretch film for pallet wrappers is running out, in-house transport tasks, e.g. of retained samples to the laboratory and much more.
Assigning a task to a group of forklift drivers
If a transport task has been created, it is output to all smartphones / forklift terminals of all registered forklift drivers who belong to the configured team for processing the transport task.
Depending on the location, it may make sense to create one or more teams for forklift drivers. This enables you to immediately establish a spatial assignment of the vehicles to machines and systems.
A team can contain one or more employees. If there are several employees in the team, a new transport task is displayed simultaneously on each of the smartphones / forklift terminals. If an employee accepts the task, it is hidden on the smartphones / forklift terminals of the other team members.
Status message to the creator of the transfer task
When a forklift driver has accepted a transport task, this is reported by means of a status feedback to the ordering party, for example a PLC. The PLC could then activate an indicator lamp to show “Euro pallets are on their way”, for example. An MES could output a display on the screen saying “Load carrier being picked up”.
Calling a colleague, mechatronics technician or supervisor for help
When the forklift driver has accepted a task to rectify a fault, e.g. in the conveyor system, and they need help, they can call for help at the touch of a button on his smartphone. He has the choice of calling a colleague, a mechatronics technician or his configured supervisor, e.g. the team leader, for help. The task in question is also displayed for information on the smartphones of the employees called for help.
Processing several tasks simultaneously
If the worker is currently processing a transfer task and another task with a higher priority is received (e.g. troubleshooting), the worker is notified of this. He can ignore, reject or accept this new task.
If the worker accepts the task, then he has two or possibly more tasks open simultaneously.
If he is overloaded, he can return one or more of the tasks already accepted. These are then automatically submitted to all team members for processing.
Call groups and call chains
“Call group” means that the transport task is offered simultaneously to all team members.
In contrast, “call chain” means that the transport task is offered to the team members in sequence. You can configure the sequence of the team members and the time for switching to the next forklift driver.
You also have the option to configure an escalation level to the supervisor, e.g. the team leader.
Transport task executed
Once a transport task has been completed, the employee confirms this by tapping on the corresponding button in the TAMAS app. The display of the transport task is hidden on the smartphone / forklift terminal, including the smartphones of the helpers who were called.
The ordering party of the transport task, for example a PLC, MES or SAP is informed of the completion via the status channel.
Reporting system for the continuous improvement process (CIP)
Each transport task is stored with its data for an adjustable duration. The storage can be performed anonymously.
The executed transport tasks are displayed in tabular form. The view can be filtered and sorted according to various criteria.
The reporting system allows a complete export of the data to MS Excel.
Required technical infrastructure
To operate the TAMAS system, you need
- A Windows PC with Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 for the TAMAS software
- Smartphones / forklift terminal for the TAMAS app for forklift drivers
- WLAN, LTE or 5G illumination for the communication of the smartphones / forklift terminals with the Windows PC
- The appropriate interface software (OPC server) for the connections from TAMAS to the PLCs of the machines
TAMAS only needs to be installed and configured on the Windows PC and the smartphones. No programming work is required for purely manual production. When PLCs are connected, the information for the tasks to be started must be available in the PLCs. The information is conveniently provided via OPC variables (OPC nodes).
The benefits for you
- TAMAS is developed to enable you to configure any transport and handling tasks. This means that with TAMAS you can have absolutely any transport and handling task in your production plant automatically reported to the right forklift drivers and workers. Even if you only produce manually. This makes TAMAS extremely efficient to use at any location of a production plant.
- Cooperation between man and machine is significantly smoother this way. The employee is informed in real time about transport orders and handling tasks to be executed. Delay times are reduced, and thus downtimes.
- Human to human cooperation is also significantly optimised. Time losses and interpersonal tensions caused by unnecessary phone calls are eliminated. Waiting times are also reduced to a minimum.
- The work of forklift drivers is also significantly improved. Forklift drivers receive their tasks in real time. Depending on how you configure your TAMAS system, the forklift driver is offered either only one task or a list of tasks. When working with the list, forklift drivers can choose which task they want to carry out next. The list is always displayed in descending order of priority and remaining reaction time.
- A task for a forklift driver need not always be a transport order. In many plants, for example, forklift drivers are also responsible for troubleshooting pallet stretch wrappers and EAN printers. TAMAS thus shows the forklift driver tasks for transports as well as for troubleshooting in the same app. It's up to you which tasks you configure for the team of the forklift driver.
- The reporting system brings transparency to your operation. You can see which faults and tasks occur how often and how quickly they can be processed. The quality of the cooperation between machines and humans as well as between humans and humans becomes measurable, thus supporting the continuous improvement process. TAMAS reveals improvement potentials that could not be identified before.
- To ensure that TAMAS is used economically and efficiently, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), we have developed TAMAS so that it can be installed and configured very easily.
- You can combine TAMAS with our LOMAS WMS module. All material movements commissioned by TAMAS are then automatically transferred from the source locations to the target locations. All your warehouses and production-related storage locations are thus automatically equipped with inventory management and tracking & tracing.
There are so many more advantages that we cannot list them all here. For example, simple integration of automatic guided vehicle systems (AGV/AMR), automatic order triggering when a spare parts warehouse becomes empty, simple implementation of Kanban racks in production, etc.
Scope of services
- Support 24/7