© Tünkers, Gernot Walter

Just in time

The future of automotive production? It is autonomous. This is what the latest invention from Tünkers is based on: the automated guided vehicle with integrated scissor lift.


The market for automated guided vehicles is booming. The driving force behind this development is that production and logistics within the automotive sector are becoming increasingly flexible. The rigid chains within production lines are breaking up more and more, and different vehicle types are produced in quick succession. The solution: automated guided vehicles. In a flexible way, they take the material required and deliver it not only to the next station, but also to the next one after that, as well — completely autonomously and just in time.

Unnoticed power

But what can you do when the object to be transported is heavy and there is limited room for power delivery? This is precisely the case in the manufacturing facilities of the automotive industry. The components for the next production step are stored on so-called just-in-sequence trolleys. There is just 400 millimeters of space between them, which is not much if you consider that the automated guided vehicle has to lift several hundred kilograms and transport it to the production line.

“An enormous force is exerted on our scissor lift for a short time. In less than seven seconds, it lifts and lowers 500 to 1,000 kilograms.”

Rolf Eppers, designer of the automated guided vehicle scissor lift

An ingenuous idea was required — something which TÜNKERS is known for. In-house, the company developed a flat scissor lift which can be built on a automated guided vehicle, and can thereby autonomously take just-in-time trolleys from A to B. Truly a powerhouse with a high degree of stability in the tightest of spaces. “An enormous force is exerted on our scissor lift for a short time. In less than seven seconds, it lifts and lowers 500 to 1,000 kilograms. So that this runs smoothly, we needed a motor with the largest possible torques in the smallest installation space,” explains Rolf Eppers, designer of the automated guided vehicle scissor lift. “Every day, we were playing Tetris over and over. Because of its small size, the drive from ebm-papst helped us to manage everything — and lift everything,” adds Wolfgang Kieninger, Design Manager for automated guided vehicle systems.

A powerful motor in the smallest space

The ECI-80 motor from ebm-papst meets these requirements: It does not require a large amount of installation space, but despite this achieves high torques at 24 volts, and is able to provide three times its power for short periods. The fast availability of the product was also important. Here ebm-papst was also the right partner. This is because the ECI  80 is part of a modular system; it was only the cover that had to be adapted to the higher splash water protection level IP54. The electronics are mounted on the underside of the lifting cover — making it autonomous. So that the scissor lift can be used flexibly, the developers at TÜNKERS decided to attach it to the automated guided vehicle with just a few screws so that it can be easily dismantled.

Transport of tomorrow

The first automated guided vehicle scissor lifts are already driving round the cockpit manufacturing facility at VW in Hanover, taking sequenced parts to the right shoring point and to the right vehicle. And beyond this? “In the field of automated guided vehicles, we are anticipating high growth rates of over 16 percent,” explains Matthias Heina, Product Manager for automated guided vehicles. “To cover the increased inquiries, we are building a new assembly hall with 5,000 square meters in Ratingen.” This is because, along with the automated guided vehicle scissor lift, TÜNKERS has already developed four other automated guided vehicles for logistics and manufacturing facilities. And one thing is for sure according to the trend — more will follow. 

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