Pick-to-Light System Optimizes Frequency Converter Assembly

KEB Automation uses WLS15 strip lights to expand its assistance system for C-parts management into an efficient and fail-safe pick-to-light solution

As a specialist for drive and control technology, KEB Automation develops, produces and sells drives as well as engines, gearboxes, brakes, clutches and Industrial IoT solutions worldwide. In order to optimize material logistics for assembly of frequency converters, KEB Automation developed the iCParts assistance system – a pick-to-light solution with WLS15 lights from Turck’s optical sensor partner Banner Engineering. iCParts shows employees at the central C-parts warehouse the shelf location at which the required screws, washers or nuts are stored. Despite the limited space available, the WLS15 strip lights impressed the company with their easy installation during operation and perfect integration.

Knowing where

Any required C-parts are ergonomically arranged in small open front storage bins within the employee’s reach. Standard labels are attached to the front of each container, as well as QR codes with information about the material number, warehouse site and storage location. If a storage bin is empty, the assembler refills it at the central C-parts rack, where more than 60 items are stored in their separate containers. By using the iCParts assistance system, every employee should now be able to find the required item immediately without a lengthy search. 

  • The WLS15 strip lights indicate the compartment in which the searched for item is stored 

  • Phillip Hannesen | Digital Transformation Manager for Production at KEB

  • By scanning, the iCParts assistance system immediately guides employees to the item via a light signal

  • The KEB controller developed in-house, runs on a Windows tablet attached to the shelf

  • The WLS15 strip lights provide extensive control of LED color indication

  • Required C-parts are illuminated, the WLS15 strip lights are mounted behind the fold of the shelf plate

  • Viktor Derksen | Head of Production Equipment Engineering at KEB

The challenge of limited space

The space between the shelf levels is very restricted in the central C-parts shelf and provides just enough space for the open front storage bins. There is no room for a sensor and the associated cabling. “We thought about how this kind of system could even be implemented on this shelf,” says Viktor Derksen, head of production equipment engineering at KEB, describing the initial situation. “A system was needed here that is either positioned externally or concealed within the shelf. These are requirements that we couldn’t implement with the components we were using previously.”

The launch of the WLS15 strip lights from Turck’s optoelectronics partner Banner Engineering was consequently very timely. The WLS15 units are very flat and cascadable LED strip lights that can be installed in tight spaces in an instant, so to speak, with magnetic mounting brackets. The 64 LEDs of each light can be controlled individually as desired. With their 15 mm profile, they are ideal for illuminating areas with limited space. The installation takes place within minutes without any restrictions during operation.

Perfect integration

All the required access points already exist in the environment of the in-house KEB control system, which is why it is possible to build on what is already in place after programming the necessary drivers. The LED lights are each coupled using T splitters and connection cables. This allows the power supply and communication to be daisy chained from light to light. “The WLS15 strip lights were an elegant and cost-effective solution for us,” says Phillip Hannesen, digital transformation manager for production at the company’s headquarters in Barntrup. “They are located behind the shelf plate, while the wiring is organized through the back. This allows the assistance system to be perfectly integrated into the standard C-parts shelf and is practically invisible.”

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