Chemists picking systems

Energy chains and cables are used in Gollmann picking systems.

Any chemist's that wants to store medications in an especially space-saving manner would do well to turn to Gollmann Kommissioniersysteme GmbH in Halle (Saale), Germany. The company uses the sliding cabinet system to efficiently store up to 60,000 packaging units in very little space and pick them automatically according to order. Gollmann has been working successfully with us for more than ten years in the selection and optimisation of moving cables and energy chains.

Profile

  • What was needed: easy chain® energy chains; chainflex® cables
  • Requirements: extremely flexible and reliable cables and cable guides that last for 15 years and on average 15 million movements; tight bend radii; quick and easy assembly
  • Industry: vending machinery
  • Success for the customer: pre-tests of the chains and  cables confirmed fail-safe performance and durability; a guarantee of up to 36 months or up to 40 million double strokes allows the customer to make reliable plans; due to the use of chains with different bend radii, the customer saves cable costs amounting to a four-digit number per year; costs and assembly time were significantly reduced thanks to energy chains of the E065 series

Picking systems by Gollmann Gollmann commissioning systems are remarkable for their extremely compact design that can be adapted to each individual case. The sliding cabinet concept makes it all possible.

Problem

Gollmann Kommissioniersysteme GmbH manufactures particularly compact picking systems, which allow the chemist to request a medication at the touch of a button.
Other systems work with fixed channels in which the handling system moves, but Gollmann has developed movable cabinets that open up channels wherever goods are being picked or delivered.
Each cabinet is driven by a stepper motor that must receive energy and, critically, signals. For instance, each end position is queried with a proximity switch. This means that there are many moving cables and a corresponding variety of energy chains, since the storage and retrieval arm and the gripper at the end of the arm require energy.
Especially due to this complex technology, the chains and cables must guarantee particularly high flexibility and reliability. In addition, Gollmann offers its customers an “all-round carefree package” in which the manufacturer assumes full responsibility - and the costs - for service, including unplanned downtime, for a full 15 years. They also provide additional compensation for expenses and an on-site service anywhere in Germany. Therefore, the components have to be durable and fail-safe. And all this at approx. 15 million movements of the system over the course of 15 years of operation at a chemist's.
Due to the compact systems, the chains also had to have a particularly small bend radius. Assembly effort also played an important role in component selection. Hence, filling the chains has to be quick and easy.

Solution

Gollmann decided early in 2007 to use our easy chain® energy chains, including the E065 series, and has remained with them ever since. A short time later, the decision was made to also buy the cables from us. Since Gollmann picking systems use CAN bus cables to communicate, the focus was on the bus cables from the chainflex® product range. Last year, the company ordered almost 30km of cables from the chainflex® CF211 series alone. A specially developed measuring system cable based on the CF211 series provides many advantages in cable processability. 
Furthermore, we offer a service life guarantee of up to 36 months or up to 40 million double strokes (e.g. for chainflex® CF298).
As Gollmann was looking for durable and reliable components,
endurance tests of energy chains and chainflex® cables were carried out at Gollmann's test facility.
Originally, the most important specification of energy chains and cables was a particularly small bend radius, as they could then be universally used in the manufacturer's system. But two years ago, the design engineers worked with us to assess the possibility of using two levels of quality and less robust series for larger bend radii. This turned out to be sensible, as a comparative service life calculation showed, and Gollmann has since saved tens of thousands of euros each year on cable costs.
A further optimisation project concerns the chainflex® special cables, such as for measuring technology. They were improved with regard to connector assembly, reducing costs and assembly time. Generally, it is possible to assemble E065 energy chains easily as the cables are simply pressed into the interior of the chain over the outer radius.


"In our picking systems, which are in use around the world, we have so far installed more than 20,000 energy chains, which operate very reliably without faults or maintenance."
 
Sven Ronneberger, Technical Manager Gollmann Kommissioniersysteme GmbH

E065 energy chain The gripper system is equipped with a small E065 chain. The chain also carries a vacuum line for the suction of the package to be picked.
RBG energy chain Energy chains are also used for the axes of the RBG.
RBG energy chain Energy chains supply the RBG axes with energy and (CAN bus) signals.
E065 energy chain Co-ordinated mobility: each sliding cabinet receives its energy supply and signal routing from an E065 energy chain and chainflex cables.

Creative alternative uses: from tool management to a pop-up store

The innovative roller cabinet principle of the order picking systems has now aroused interest from outside the pharmaceutical industry. Ronneberger says, "We are increasingly planning projects for entirely different applications, such as managing tens of thousands of samples for a producer of spice mixtures in the food service industry." In another case, a metal-working company is storing expensive turning and milling tools in a Gollmann system. If a tool is worn, the worker retrieves a replacement (if he or she has user privileges), and the system can track tool service life effectively. A completely new and relatively novel application is pop-up stores that are set up in, e.g. shopping centres and can be used as attractive, space-saving temporary points of sale. So, ideas are clearly not only coming from Gollmann design engineers, but from sales staff as well. By working with igus, Gollmann has found a moving energy supply and signal routing partner that is just as agile.