One of the advantages of commissioning robots in warehouses and using driverless transport systems to load goods is the increased flexibility such systems give a company. This is because cyber-physical systems (CPS) can be linked to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and can, for example, report back in virtual real time when raw materials are removed. If stock runs short, the ERP system is able to immediately order new supplies. The automated supply of information has other benefits, for example, it can also reduce the error rate. At the same time, CPS technology is able to handle a high number of variants, as it is flexible enough to adapt quickly to short notice changes in the order position.
However, until now, all of this has been difficult to quantify. Martina Schiffer from the Department of Factory Planning and Production Management at Fraunhofer IPA highlights that “it is difficult to assess the costs and benefits of a driverless transport system with any degree of reliability.” The reason for this is that all potential CPS users have their own IT infrastructure. Connecting the technologies to the existing ERP or Manufacturing Execution System (MES) can incur high costs. “Even the existing processes would probably have to be adjusted as they are not configured for use with these new technologies”, says Martina Schiffer.