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Case: Mercedes upgrades its AGV robots

by Pieter Werner

Mercedes-Benz has upgraded its Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) system at the Ludwigsfelde factory with the assistance of HMS Networks. This move enhances the efficiency and safety of operations where over 70 AGVs transport crucial automotive parts across distances between 300 to 800 meters.

The factory’s AGVs, critical in moving items ranging from heavy engines to smaller electronic components, are integral to Mercedes-Benz’s production line. Each AGV incorporates a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) from industry leaders such as Siemens or Schneider Electric, ensuring reliable and safe navigation within the factory environment.

Previously employing Bluetooth technology via HMS’ Anybus Wireless Bolt and Anybus Bridge products, Mercedes-Benz sought to further refine their system to boost throughput, reduce latency, and prepare for upcoming regulatory changes. The EU Machinery Regulation (EU) 2023/1230, which mandates specific safety standards starting January 2027, prompted this advancement.

HMS Networks provided extensive support, beginning with a predictive site survey based on detailed factory floorplans provided by Mercedes-Benz. This initial phase helped determine the optimal number and placement of access points needed for the new system. Following this, HMS experts visited the Ludwigsfelde site to finalize the setup and ensure the installation met operational requirements.

The upgraded wireless infrastructure now utilizes the 5GHz frequency band across 12 strategically placed access points in the factory’s ceiling, managed through Anybus PoE L2 Managed Switches. The Anybus Wireless Bolt II, installed on each AGV, facilitates seamless communication with the factory’s traffic control system. As an AGV moves beyond the range of one access point, it automatically transitions to the next without interrupting its operation.

Maximilian Lichan from Mercedes-Benz praised the collaboration and the results achieved, noting the system’s stability and compliance with the forthcoming EU safety regulations. He also highlighted the benefits of increased bandwidth which now enables remote management and configuration of the AGVs—a supplementary advantage to their primary goals.

In reflection, Maximilian emphasized the importance of having HMS’ wireless expertise directly on-site, underlining their crucial role in the smooth integration of the new system. This partnership not only met Mercedes-Benz’s immediate needs but also set a precedent for future technological upgrades in industrial settings.

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