Mecalux debuts robotic picking system with Siemens’ technology

October 30, 2023

Mecalux has unveiled a state-of-the-art technological solution to optimize order picking: an innovative collaborative robotic picking system based on the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Mecalux’s new automated solution incorporates Siemens’ SIMATIC Robot Pick AI technology, a vision software that employs deep learning algorithms to significantly streamline picking in warehouses. With AI integrated into the programmable logic controller (SIMATIC S7-1500), the collaborative robot (cobot) performs order picking with total autonomy and maximum accuracy.

This robotic picking system is the result of a solid alliance between Mecalux and Siemens, which merge their knowledge and experience in industrial automation technologies. The two companies have a long-standing collaboration in implementing technological solutions that respond to the challenges faced by the logistics industry.

Mecalux has launched two collaborative picking solutions: a cobot programmed to safely share the workspace with operators and an automated system that works autonomously in high-performance pick stations.

The picking solution, developed at Mecalux’s technology center in Barcelona, has been designed to operate 24/7 and execute up to 1,000 picks per hour. Cobots can handle a wide range of items, making this technology suitable for businesses from all sectors looking to optimize order processing.

“The technology partnership with Siemens has allowed us to join forces to create a highly flexible, safe and user-friendly robotic solution that adapts to the specific needs of our clients,” Javier Carrillo, CEO of Mecalux, said.

A camera positioned above the cobot’s picking box captures a 3D image of the goods to prepare the orders. “The AI algorithm has been pre-trained with millions of items to offer out-of-the-box performance. It’s able to make decisions in milliseconds on robust, collision-free picking positions for products presented completely arbitrarily. One of the key aspects of this solution is that it doesn’t need to know the 3D model of the item in question beforehand. The advanced artificial intelligence algorithm acts as the brain, enabling the smart picking process,” José Ramón Castro, CEO of Siemens Digital Industries in Spain, said.

Once the item has been selected, the cobot deposits it in the picking box with high precision, making the most of the available space. Mecalux has devised an algorithm to ensure that the cobot places the goods in the correct location.

Guided by Mecalux’s warehouse management software (Easy WMS), the collaborative picking solution can change its gripping system automatically depending on the type of merchandise to be handled. Upon receiving a new box, Siemens’ vision system and AI algorithm identify the items inside and determine the most appropriate way to pick each product.

This algorithm is executed using the most powerful hardware platform that Siemens offers on the market: the S7-1500 PLC range, which, together with the TM-MFP (Technology Module-Multifunctional Platform), is capable of executing AI technology. This is achieved while respecting cybersecurity standards and employing the SCALANCE X family of intelligent switches.

With the launch of this innovative collaborative picking system, Mecalux and Siemens reaffirm their commitment to delivering cutting-edge technological solutions that improve operational efficiency for their clients.

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