Innovation+: TGW’s Formula for Enhanced Customer Value Delivers Video Communication-Based Support Services, Robotic Handling
Although TGW places high priority on developing new technologies for logistics and material handling innovation, not every technology delivers the greatest benefit to customers. Using the Innovation+ methodology, TGW creates customer value and ensures their operational success.
According to Markus Winkler, Head of Advanced Technology Development at TGW Logistics Group, when expressed as a formula, Innovation+ looks like this:
Innovation + added customer value =
high quality solutions, long-term relationships and sustainable customer success
“TGW’s customers trust that the company’s innovative solutions will deliver the maximum value for their operations,” he explains. “That’s why every one of our automated storage and handling solutions is engineered to meet each customer’s specific requirements, and new technologies are carefully evaluated before implementation into a new project or service offering.”
Two recent examples include the application of augmented reality smart glasses that connect technicians on-site at a facility with headquarter-based engineers for troubleshooting, and robotic picking equipment.
"TGW stands for solid, high-quality logistics solutions and supporting our customers throughout a lifetime. We earn the trust of our customers through our daily efforts to ensure technological innovations make the most sense for their operations, rather than applying new technologies because they’re getting a lot of hype," adds Winkler.
Innovation+: Augmented reality smart glasses speed troubleshooting, minimize equipment downtime
In 2016, TGW added augmented reality smart glasses to its package of Lifetime Services (LTS) for faster routine maintenance, troubleshooting and support.
"We use the smart glasses as 'hands-free' tools to support video communication between our hotline experts at headquarters and either TGW service technicians or the customer's employees on-site,” explains Christoph Knogler, Director of TGW’s Global Lifetime Services. “The smart glasses ensure efficient communication and enhance the ability to find a solution quickly, adding value for the customer.”
When TGW recognized the potential of augmented reality technology within this area, it established both a pilot project and a partnership with a smart glasses provider to help align the solution with TGW’s software systems. “Through those efforts, we were able to turn an idea into an Innovation+ solution that is already bringing exceptional value to our customers,” Knogler continues.
Innovation+: Active development of robotic picking solutions
With the July 2016 addition of TGW Robotics, located in Stephanskirchen, Germany, TGW began to explore new ways to further add robot solutions into automated handling processes within warehousing and distribution facilities. Already widely used for decades in production industries with automated and robotic assembly lines, robotic technologies have been enhancing receiving and shipment in intralogistics operations as well, explains Winkler.
“Robots are used in goods receiving areas for depalletizing, in shipping areas for palletizing goods, and for automatic loading and unloading of automated storage system carriers," he says.
To further enhance customer value through robotics, TGW has been exploring the development of highly flexible systems based on industrial robots. These robots are equipped with innovative gripper systems to meet customers' needs for higher throughput and to accommodate increasingly variable handling demands.
As an Innovation+ project, TGW has leveraged developments in cognitive robotics—robots with the capability to see, identify, decide and react—to automate previously manual picking processes. Equipped with advanced sensors and camera systems, these robots can identify single items in a tote, decide what items need to be picked, grab those items directly, and remove them from the tote.
"For humans, these tasks seem simple. But for a machine to complete these steps requires a complex interaction of sensor technologies and data processing,” Winkler continues. “Thanks to major advances in robotic systems over the last five to ten years, we’ve been able to develop and implement these systems into some of the first picking processes at customer applications today."
Innovation+ = Success for TGW’s customers
Throughout TGW, the Innovation+ methodology has yielded significant productivity and efficiency improvements for customers, concludes Winkler.
"At TGW, we don't deal with 'nice gadgets.' We are working on agile developments that provide long-term value, because our customers trust us to provide solutions that keep them successful year after year,” he says. “That’s what Innovation+ is all about; it’s in TGW’s DNA, and we are proud of it.”