Digital twin supports planning in intralogistics

Increasing requirements in terms of delivery times and an increasing shortage of experts: many companies increase automation of their processes as a consequence. But the level of complexity in warehouse planning and in the realization of logistics projects increases with the level of automation. Unitechnik therefore relies on the digital twin of the intralogistics system for planning reliability and a reduction of the realization phase. Depending on the project phase, the system integrator uses various forms of presentation, from live virtual reality models to dynamic material flow representations. Unitechnik will show the customer's advantages from using the digital twin at LogiMAT in Hall 1, booth G21.

Until just a few years ago, a conversion of logistics centers generally also meant downtimes and stoppages. The approach in software development has changed fundamentally with the use of modern emulation methods: "we start the emulation as soon as the layout stands and the trades are selected," says Ingolf Mix, IT consulting and sales at Unitechnik Systems GmbH. "We first review every function and every interface, no matter how small, against the digital twin." The UniWare emulator reflects the complete control technology and interfaces of all connected systems. It even simulates the behavior of humans working on the system. This digital image of a real environment is an ideal testing platform for UniWare warehouse management system. Program optimizations can thus be implemented prior to real-life start-up. The emulation of the material flow system increases with each partial programming and ultimately represents a full digital twin of the system. A complex renovation without a system shutdown had to be performed for the customer Turck, for example. "We completely restructured the flow of materials and integrated two new warehouses. Thanks to the high quality of the software, we were able to convert the real system in only one long weekend," says Ingolf Mix.

Another type of digital twin is used in the sales and planning phase of a Unitechnik project. With virtual reality (VR), customers can be in their new logistics center already long before the project is realized. The VR model consists of a 3D construction drawing of the new logistic system and allows for a better evaluation of reaching heights, configurations, and clearances between the individual elements. But the model can do even more: The workstations can be recreated in a way that employees can pick orders virtually at their future workstation. "The customer Claas, for example, found the way in which workstations were integrated into the automated system to be decisive," says Ingolf Mix. "In presentations with employees, they gave valuable information for an improved configuration of workstations." The use of a digital twin can also help exclude potential hazards for employees early on and improve the ergonomics of their workstations.

The digital twin supports planning of logistic systems and the testing of warehouse management software