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Vertical storage lifts from Weland Solutions help producers manage more stock in less space with greater speed, precision, safety and reliability. As Weland customers adapt to the e-commerce boom, they need picking systems with increased flexibility and scalability. To meet these needs, Weland equipped its new generation of vertical storage lifts with a full control solution from B&R – including a completely revamped HMI solution based on B&R mapp View, with web-based operation and an intuitive, smartphone-like interface.

In the southern Swedish town of Gislaved, Weland Solutions builds and customizes vertical storage lifts that help customers from Singapore to Brazil manage their warehouses more efficiently. Conducting a tour through his production hall, product manager Per Larsson stops to point out the Compact Twin model, whose dual trays can more than double the picking rate - to a capacity of 1200 order lines per hour.

E-commerce demands flexibility

Larsson explains how Weland adapts each lift to the customer's needs, including the size of the premises and ceiling height as well as the number, size and weight of goods to be stored. Vertical storage lifts save a considerable amount of floor space while providing faster, more precise order picking.

Thus began a generational shift in the company's portfolio – aimed at increasing performance, flexibility and scalability. With an entire solution designed to be modular from the ground up, it would be essential that the solution allow hardware to be chosen, connected and swapped out freely.

Over a decade of partnership with B&R has helped Weland maintain its pace of 15% annual growth and an impressive ability to customize, produce and deliver a custom lift in only four weeks. Little surprise, then, that the company turned to B&R for a complete package of control hardware for its new design, including PLC, I/O and motion control technology. System communication is handled via POWERLINK.

Generational shift

E-commerce requires producers to take a much more consumer-oriented approach to stock handling. Weland saw that serving these customers would require lift systems to be more modular and flexible than ever, with control hardware able to scale along with the rest of the system.

Thus began a generational shift in the company's portfolio – aimed at increasing performance, flexibility and scalability. With an entire solution designed to be modular from the ground up, it would be essential that the solution allow hardware to be chosen, connected and swapped out freely.

Over a decade of partnership with B&R has helped Weland maintain its pace of 15% annual growth and an impressive ability to customize, produce and deliver a custom lift in only four weeks. Little surprise, then, that the company turned to B&R for a complete package of control hardware for its new design, including PLC, I/O and motion control technology. System communication is handled via POWERLINK.

Scalable web-based HMI

To accompany its new generation of vertical storage lifts, Weland also planned to completely revamp its HMI solution. Requirements for this part of the project were an open architecture and web-based operation, including the ability to view the HMI application on a variety of devices. The user interface would need a clean, modern design to make operation intuitive and enjoyable.

These requirements lined up nicely with B&R's web-based HMI solution, mapp View. By encapsulating powerful web standards like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript into convenient drag-and-drop widgets, mapp View made it easy for Weland to create a modern, web-enabled HMI application. With the intuitive user guidance of a smartphone, the HMI application can be viewed on displays of any size. It is possible to connect multiple clients and shift workload between them. Operators enjoy helpful features such as ready access to PDF documentation and instruction videos.

"We now have a control panel that feels like a modern website or smartphone app. The new widgets allow for smoother control and the HMI has a uniform graphic design featuring our corporate identity," says Larsson.

The partnership goes on

The result of this development project is a new generation of storage lifts with increased functionality. According to Larsson, the major advantage lies in added flexibility, with B&R's approach making it simple to swap out anything from a motor to a display.

Weland particularly values B&R's ability to back up innovative technology with accessible technical support. "The straightforward, swift channels into the B&R support organization have been particularly valuable," says Larsson. "That a big company like B&R can act with true local presence in Sweden bodes well for a long future together."

An off-the-shelf future

Larsson anticipates a future where industrial machinery relies more on standard off-the-shelf hardware and software. "The world of industrial manufacturing needs to catch up with the agility and ease of the smartphone world," he says. "Stable operation is crucial, but standard technology could be more integrated in industrial applications, and B&R is doing a great job leading the way in this direction."

He also looks forward to exciting new possibilities. "I imagine a future where I can check the production status on my smartphone when I arrive at work in the morning, or where operators are automatically logged in when in the vicinity of the lift."

Per Larsson

Product manager, Weland AB

"The straightforward, swift channels into the B&R support organization have been particularly valuable," says Larsson. That a big company like B&R can act with true local presence in Sweden bodes well for a long future together."

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