In 1957, Daifuku supplied Japan’s first chain conveyors for body transport to an automobile plant. Since then, we have achieved many results in almost all processes of automobile production. For the construction of main assembly lines, in addition to innovative conveyor systems, we have provided various solutions for improving productivity regarding parts handling in the lines and parts supply to the line side. However, systems for the reception and storage of parts from suppliers and timely retrieval according to production schedules often required human labor. To improve such a situation, we developed and launched the SPDR (pronounced spider), a temporary storage and sortation system for parts in December 2014.

World-First Temporary Storage and Sortation System “SPDR” Developed

Flexible handling of cases varying in size

The SPDR comprises of the arm, which automatically lowers and raises to grasp cases of parts; a girder, which enables movement in four directions; and the rails and support columns for the girder. The system is able to stack cases directly on the floor of the open area within the support columns. The chuck on the arm is a proprietary technology, and is the world’s first to handle cases of varying sizes. It can grasp cases one by one or in a stack and thus can easily handle cases on lower layers, which facilitates operation, such as picking retrieval and grouping retrieval, to satisfy requirements on the line side.

Demand for mechanized parts logistics

In automobile plants, parts need temporary storage before being supplied to production lines. In many cases, they used to be temporarily loaded on the floor and then be manually retrieved and sorted, which placed a heavy burden on workers because a case containing parts weighs about 20 kg. In addition, we had received many requests from customers who wished to

  1. utilize limited space more effectively
  2. automate operation with different case sizes
  3. install and make the system operational in a short period
  4. minimize time required for relocation and layout change after installation
  5. improve efficiency of case sortation by direction and time
  6. introduce flexible automatic systems, and
  7. be able to retrieve cases even if the system does not work

Solution for various issues related to parts logistics

Development of the SPDR was started in response to these requests on the concept of mechanizing facilities with minimal fixed parts, such as racks, and enabling workers to handle cases if the system does not work. The SPDR flexibly stores cases, of which sizes and quantities may change every day, in the conventional floor loading manner.
The system has a high throughput of up to 80 storage and retrieval cycles per hour, when each side of the machine is 7 m, and is highly flexible, allowing input and output ports to be located anywhere as needed and to be modified or added in a short time even after installation.
For retrieval, the following three patterns are available: first-in first-out to retrieve only one of the grasped cases and re-store the others, lot retrieval to output a stack of cases with the same lot number, and case picking retrieval to pick up different types of cases in order into a stack and then deposits them at once. The system can handle most commercially available containers, including standard, handled, two-colored, and collapsible containers, which can weigh up to 20 kg individually and up to 150 kg in total when grasped as a stack. Besides extensive functions for inventory control, it provides various expansion interfaces that enable storage, retrieval, and inventory check via tablets.

< DAIFUKU NEWS No.211 (May 2005)>