Self Guided Vehicles (SGV’s) and an Automated Storage Retrieval System (ASRS) for a Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

April 15, 2020


Grantek’s Pharmaceutical manufacturing client wanted to build a new plant, and compared to existing plants, they had a goal to simplify life for operators and automate material handling. To move Work-in-Progress (WIP) material in totes, the plant was to have Self Guided Vehicles (SGV’s), an Automated Storage Retrieval System (ASRS) and numerous conveyor sections. These containers needed batch tracking, to be weighed at different points along the process and for corporate SAP inventory and traceability information to be updated. All of this needed to be simple for the operator, linked with their existing paper work instructions and accessible directly from their production equipment.

Grantek, in partnership with the client, conceived, designed, built, commissioned, and validated a series of SCADA systems which made everything automated, and simple for operators. These systems seamlessly integrated: SAP, the ASRS, an SGV system, conveyors, weigh scales with yield logging, SAP, lifts, and door systems. All actions were initiated directly from the operators control screen, which also controlled the operator’s production equipment. Operator actions which triggered complicated business processes, and many physical movements became as simple as “touch the container, and touch the ‘Send to ASRS’ button”.

The client required each operator station to be equipped with a touch screen for navigation and display, a barcode scanner for scanning process documents, and a keyboard for data entry.

When a user requests a tote from a station O/I, a request will be sent to the Warehouse Control System (WCS) to retrieve the desired tote. A request will also be sent to the self-guided vehicle (SGV) control system to mobilize an SGV to move the tote to the desired location and the status of the tote movement will be updated on the O/I. The ASRS supervisory system Grantek built will also issue all of the necessary calls to update SAP and print any necessary labels.

The system also issues all of the Goods Issues and Goods Receipts to SAP via a  Yield Check System (YCS) whenever a tote is weighed.

The ASRS supervisory  system also manages bottle storage and retrieval, and it manages the number of clean totes in service throughout the facility.

Grantek used a standard SAP library to manage the Communications layer. Grantek worked with the customer to define the information needed for production and for moving totes. Grantek worked with the client to define all interfaces for data. Grantek also ensured system reconciliation to account for discrepancies that occasionally arise between the two systems in the event of human interaction and equipment failures.

To help ensure a trouble-free implementation, Grantek also designed and helped conduct simulated testing to provide comprehensive coverage of normal operations and failure scenarios. Grantek commissioned the system, trained operators, and supervisory personnel to ensure ongoing success.

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