It won't work without a drive: Framo Morat develops gearboxes and drives for automated guided vehicles.
Flexible, efficient and reliable. That's what intralogistics has to be these days in order to meet the demands for shorter product life cycles, faster delivery times, and greater turnover rates as batch sizes become smaller. Many companies therefore rely on innovative automation solutions that ensure a standardized and automated material flow around the clock. These include automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). They are at the heart of an automated warehouse. Controlled by intelligent software and communication, they make material flows more efficient and contribute to holistic optimization of the value chain.
The right drive
A central component of automated guided vehicles are the right transmissions. After all, nothing runs (or rather drives) without them. Framo Morat is well aware of this. With 110 years of experience in the development of customer-specific drive solutions, the company recognized the need for transmission concepts for automated guided vehicles early on. For Framo Morat, in addition to numerous successfully implemented transmission projects in the field of intralogistics, they were also the obvious starting point for entering the AGV market segment due to the company's own experience in the course of modernizing its in-house warehouse and logistics concept.
The result of this project was the two hub gear units NG250 and NG500, which are based on a modular system and are available in single- and two-stage versions. The NG250 is ideal for smaller AGVs. The single-stage version with a total gear length of 62.5 mm and a standard wheel size of 125 mm can handle loads of up to 250 kg per wheel. In terms of compactness, the NG500 with an overall gear length of 64 mm and a standard wheel size of 160 mm is also impressive. This is used in larger vehicles with a wheel load of up to 500 kg. On the transmission side, Framo Morat has achieved maximum power density with the hub gears. Thanks to the advantageous arrangement of the separate wheel bearings and the integration of the planetary gear in the PUR impeller, they are particularly suitable for wheel drives for automated guided vehicles.
From initial customer solutions...
However, because the transmissions as individual modules only comprise part of the automated guided vehicles, it was the logical consequence to offer the first complete systems for the driveline together with long-standing motor partners. "Depending on customer requirements, renowned motor manufacturers have used this as a basis to develop either very powerful systems that have to transport heavy loads or compact solutions that can be placed in limited installation spaces and have established them as the standard," says a delighted Felix Kneipp, who is responsible for business development in the Hub Drive / Intralogistics business unit at the Black Forest gear and drive specialist. Framo Morat used its experience in the development of drives to adapt the solutions for smooth use with a wide range of different motors. Thanks to the modular principle, cost-effectiveness was maintained despite different systems.
...to our own system solution
After successful customer projects, an own system solution for automated guided vehicles was the obvious next step. "Our focus was no longer only on coordinated
power density in the transmission, but also in the motor and electronics. In addition, we wanted to provide a drive unit that would reliably meet the payload and dynamic requirements over the entire service life of the AGV," Kneipp explains.
The result is a highly integrated and powerful wheel hub drive. Based on the NG500, it combines all functional elements in an all-inclusive solution. The modular and scalable system is a real all-rounder and impresses in particular with its high and targeted performance in the tightest of installation spaces. AGV manufacturers thus have a system tailored to the application, resulting in either more compact vehicles with the same payload or additional usable installation space for batteries and electronics.
Furthermore, adjustments can be made as required with regard to payload, torque, interfaces, sensors and control profiles. Thanks to the high in-house vertical range of manufacture for the gear components, freedom in motor definition and its own assembly team, Framo Morat can also realize short delivery times for the wheel hub drives.
"The drive can be used in a wide variety of AGVs. Whether in automated warehouses or in production for the distribution of goods, packaging and components, or as a traction drive for disinfection robots or medication transport vehicles in clinics. All this makes it so interesting for vehicle manufacturers in a wide range of industries," says Kneipp.
Customer-specific developments remain in demand
In addition to system solutions, there is also continued interest in customer-specific AGV solutions. Here, Framo Morat benefits from the expertise it has acquired in the market segment of hub gears and drives, as well as decades of experience in the development and production of individual drive systems for a wide range of customers and industries. "Especially for applications that cannot be served with standard systems, the core competence of customer-specific development is important," Kneipp says. "For us, it is therefore a matter of course that we also offer our customers individual solutions if required."
Thanks to its vertical range of manufacture, Framo Morat can already produce initial prototypes very quickly and economically in this regard. In addition to customer-specific development, however, Framo Morat is already thinking ahead. "Based on the latest market trends, we are always thinking about how we can create a universally applicable proprietary development so that other applications and players in the field of intralogistics can also benefit from it," says Kneipp.
The latest example of this is the speeroX gearing-based travel drive for lift trucks and small forklifts. The system consists of a powerful electric motor, a helical-toothed spur gear stage and a speeroX wheel set as an angular stage. Compared to existing systems, the novel development impresses with its economy, power density, dynamics, durability and system competence. "This makes speeroX particularly attractive for manufacturers of lift trucks and small forklifts," says Kneipp.
The speeroX gearing is an in-house development by Framo Morat that enables high gear ratios and power flow around corners in just one stage. In the wheel set, the gear teeth of the wheel move to the face side. Thanks to the advantageous spatial arrangement of the spiral-toothed wheel and a modified worm, the installation space can be significantly reduced compared to classic gear variants. The speeroX wheel set is also quiet and has a high degree of efficiency with a long service life.
Future market of driverless transport systems
At Framo Morat, we know that the future belongs to driverless transport systems and that in just a few years, intralogistics will no longer be imaginable without them. That is why the company continues to focus on the development of both customer-specific solutions and its own drive concepts for AGVs.