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Automation and Digitalization at Roto FTT

Since October this year, all manufacturing output at Roto FTT’s Headquarters in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, has been transported across the company’s premises via a fully automated outdoor transport train. Loading, unloading, and transporting are carried out autonomously.

By using this outdoor transport train, Roto is once again living up to its reputation as a pioneer of innovation in the fenestration hardware industry.

The project forms part of the “Logistics Strategy 2025” adopted by Roto FTT in 2019. This strategy focuses on automation and digitalization. As a result, since 2020, automated transport systems have been supplying our manufacturing facility with cardboard boxes and transporting the full boxes to the storage area. Stefan Duge, Intralogistics Project Manager in Leinfelden, summarizes the benefits of both transport systems: “This project enables us to optimize our internal material flow. Both transport systems are extremely flexible and ensure continuous material flow within our facilities.”

This system allows us to provide goods to our customers faster. Duge describes the connections: “We reduce our throughput times by continuing to transport parts and materials 24/7 without interruption, even during peak manufacturing capacity times and holiday periods. As a result, our finished goods are dispatched quicker and therefore available to our customers sooner.”

With just one annual inspection, the outdoor transport train requires little maintenance; it is ready for use in almost all weather conditions and can be controlled manually, if necessary.

The outdoor transport train was commissioned following intensive planning with the support of the supplier Neumaier Industry GmbH & Co. Our planning involved determining the quantities to be transported, specifications of the vehicle, technical and visual design of the transfer stations, and safety measures. Both the tractor unit and the two trailers are equipped with safety scanners that detect obstacles and stop the vehicle immediately.

The illuminated transport train moves at a maximum speed of 3 mph and is equipped with geonavigation in order to stay en route. Road markings, signs and speed bollards are placed to guide and alert other vehicles on the company premises.

The outdoor transport train further demonstrates the company’s drive towards automation and digitalization. Manufacturing Director Dr Stefan Thiemermann says Roto wants to “implement similar strategies in other manufacturing plants in the future.”

Other “Industry 4.0” projects in progress include: recording machine and operating data online, using collaborative robots, digital spare parts management, 3D printing, and using mixed reality glasses (HoloLens). Thiemermann summarizes the aim of all these projects and the benefits for the customer: “Automation and digitalization are the key pillars of Roto’s success and also helps us provide our customers with high quality products and ensure reliable delivery service.”

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