Research - LEAN

Project description

Developing a novel light construction storage and retrieval machine (SRM) on the basis of cable robot technology is the main objective of the joint research project LEAN (Development of light construction rack feeders on the basis of cable robot technology from North Rhine-Westphalia). A consortium consisting of local enterprises and research facilities (all from the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia) will develop the cutting edge components and subsystems that are necessary for the realization of the new type of SRM and offer the opportunity to offer one of the best-performing storage and retrieval machines on the market.

Compared to conventional SRM, this project pursues a radically new approach since merely as a platform representing the function of the load handling attachment remains from the conventional system. This platform will now be guided by a system of wired cables in front of the rack. These cables are winded or unwinded by a coordinated control system of several winches and, thus, allow a precise positioning of the device including payload in front of the rack.

Considerable energy savings and increased performance of the new rack feeder are expected from the joint research project. With a consistent use of light construction technologies, the provided drive power is almost exclusively used for the movement of the payload. Energy-consuming acceleration and brake processes for comparatively high masses of conventional rack feeders are dropped in this way. Furthermore, a substantial weight reduction is to be achieved.

A North Rhine-Westphalian technology leadership in one of its most significant economic sectors boosts local industrial players – both manufacturers of automation solutions and users from the logistics sector – essentially in national and international competition and, thereby, consolidates unique synergetic potentials of North Rhine-Westphalian academia and industry in these fields. Hence, lower process times and costs, an increased performance, lower prices, a stronger customer basis and innovation leadership are expected for the users of the SRM to be developed. These competitive advantages serve both the users of the system through higher process efficiency and lower costs, one the one hand, and the distributors of the solution through higher sales volume and profit, on the other. Consequently, safeguarding the involved enterprises, creating new jobs and opening up growth potential can also be expected as indirect results of the project.

The feasibility of the project concept has already been proved as part of the EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr, more precisely, in the previous project “Development of a rack feeder system based on the Stewart-Gough platform” (SGP). The precise objective of the new project is to integrate the newly developed components and to evaluate a new demonstrator in a continuous trial operation at HAVI Global Logistics GmbH, a significant logistics service provider headquartered in Duisburg, Germany, in order to provide evidence of the industrial usability in practice. While mercatronics GmbH from Bocholt, Germany, develops and provides individual components from the automation side, w3logistics AG from Dortmund, Germany, focuses on the IT connection of the SRM to the current system landscape at HAVI Global Logistics GmbH as well as on the development of mobile solutions for the operation of the new device as well as the underlying warehouse management system.

With the R&D project running out, the further development towards a market-ready product as well as the full use of market potential within (and, possibly, also outside of) the logistics sector has still to be coordinated. Another explicit interest of the involved enterprises is the marketing of their developed individual components which serve both as a basis for the development of the new type of SRM and for integration into other new developments and products – even beyond the duration of the R&D project.


LEAN project logo

Project logo

Project management

Arnim Spengler M. Sc.
General Project Manager
mercatronics GmbH

Academic coordination

Dr.-Ing. Tobias Bruckmann
Technical Coordinator (Mechatronics)
University of Duisburg-Essen, Dept. of Mechatronics

Cyril Alias M. Sc.
Technical Coordinator (Logistics)
University of Duisburg-Essen, Dept. of Transport Systems and Logistics

Project funding

Lead Market Competition "Mobility & Logistics NRW“ (1. round)

Project start

April 2016

Project duration

36 months (until April 2019)