Active workpiece carrier
The demand for flexible solutions, when manufacturing a wide variety of products in small quantities, is growing in plant and conveyor technologies. Often, each product variant requires its own adapted workpiece carrier. Depending on the number of different products, this results in increased storage space requirements. In addition, there are long changeover times in production when changing products or variants. In close cooperation with the University of Paderborn, a wireless technology was developed which enables a workpiece carrier to adapt itself mechanically and logically to the next product variant within the production cycle time. Therefore, it is necessary to integrate logic, sensors and actuators on the workpiece carrier. It was developed an autonomous and powerful power supply that can be charged wirelessly within short time cycles. For this purpose, a smart battery system was investigated together with a smart charger. This overall system is able to provide different voltage levels for the different active components. In order to save energy, the system has I/O interfaces to supply the various components with energy when it is needed. This makes it possible to use a smaller and less expensive battery. In addition, the smart charger is connected to a Wi-Fi interface in order to communicate with the higher-level production control system. This enables the transmission of important battery parameters, allowing the battery condition to be monitored and the remaining service lifetime to be estimated and optimized.