Materials handling might not be an area you immediately associate with Victron Energy, however in this case Victron have proved to be an ideal partner to enable the build and implementation of the shuttle racking system pictured above.
Note the Victron Energy battery monitor (BMV-700 series) fitted at the bottom right-hand side of the headline image above. More of that and the other Victron Energy system components in a moment, but first let’s find out what is what and why Victron products have been chosen.
What is it and what does it do?
In this materials handling scenario a shuttle racking system enables the loading and unloading of pallets within a storage system, by means of a special radio controlled shuttle called Mekix.
The Mekix shuttle carries and moves pallets on it’s platform. The shuttle moves on specially shaped guide rails within a storage channel or corridor (of which there are a number within a warehouse) as shown in the images below.
In this shuttle racking system, pallets are moved and stored in the horizontal direction on different levels, thereby achieving the maximum available use of space in both the horizontal depth and vertical height directions.
This type of semi-automatic storage and retrieval system (referred to as shuttle racking) is often the preferred materials handling system for cold storage and product warehousing, where high density storage is required.
Mekix in action
A forklift moves and carries the Mekix shuttle to the warehouse channel or corridor area where the pallets are to be stored. The forklift then places the shuttle onto the channel guide rails. Pallets to be stored are then placed on top of the Mekix shuttle by the forklift. The shuttle then moves (powered by Victron) in a horizontal direction until it reaches the first available empty space, where it sets down the pallet. Next the shuttle returns along the guide rails of the storage area channel and repeats the process until the storage area is full – bar one pallet.
Before this last pallet is placed into the storage channel, the forklift retrieves the shuttle from the channel and places it into a new empty channel area to commence work there. The remaining pallet and space to be filled (in the previous storage channel) is put in place by a forklift. The operation continues on this basis.
To unload the pallets from a storage channel area the operation is simply repeated in reverse. Here’s a video to show the Mekix shuttle in action.
Victron Energy system components
- 1 x LiFePO4 battery-BMS 12.8V/60Ah
- 1 x Orion 12/24-20 DC-DC converter
- 1 x BMV-700
- 1 x BatteryProtect 12/24V 65A
- 1 x Blue Power IP65 Charger 12/15
Conclusion & links
There are clearly a number of factors as to why Victron products were chosen in this build.
- The Mekix shuttle itself is small and thin, which makes the size and energy density of the Victron LFP battery ideal for this application.
- The BMV-700 provides warehouse staff with an audible and visual battery pre-alarm, which allows a worker to complete a storage task before removing the battery from the shuttle and replacing it with a charged one.
- A depleted battery is safely recharged with the Blue Power IP65 rated charger and LFP charge profile.
- The BatteryProtect prevents damage to the lithium cells, by disconnecting loads before critical low voltage levels are reached.
- The DC-DC converter is essential to up the voltage from 12 to 24V for the shuttle’s drive motors.
It’s great to see Victron products being used in innovative ways. The current Mekix shuttle can handle 1,500kg and now after having been tested and proved, a small series production run has commenced. AC motors are also being used, with the DC-DC converters being replaced by a Victron inverter, as peak AC power is needed for that. Two of these systems, using an 800VA inverter each, a BatteryProtect for visual/audible alarms and use of it’s alarm relay (to communicate with the shuttle’s PLCs) are currently in build.
The next step is a larger shuttle with up to 15 tonnes carrying capacity – which of course we hope Victron will be a part of too.
We wish Robotas and Rafex (part of the Çemesan Group) every success with their system.
System R&D and build – http://robotas.com.tr/
System buyer/sales – http://www.rafex.com.tr/en & https://www.facebook.com/rafexrafsistemleri/
If you have an interesting application such as this – do let us now so we can report on it here.
My thanks to Islam Varol (recently featured here on the Victron blog) for the information and images used.
Victron Energy people: Who is Islam Varol?