Release Notes - Q2 2022 - Release 1.6 "Bluecap"

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With this release, SYNAOS delivers a key milestone on our journey to building an Intralogistics Management Platform that connects all your resources, orchestrates and optimizes all processes holistically based on the ever-changing environment in your store floor: We're launching the first Warehouse Execution features, and hereby adding the capability to connect human workers and conveyors and bring them into our sphere of control.

We’ve taken traffic management in our SYNAOS IMP Mobile Robots Fleet Management under the microscope and added some new key functionalities to make managing large fleets of AGVs and AMRs easier and keep vehicles moving and productive. Configurable No Stopping Areas, a completely new approach to deadlock detection and some tweaks to how parking orders are assigned, delivers smooth and uninterrupted movement of your fleet.

New Features

Mobile Robots | No Stopping Areas

An exciting new feature that makes sure that AGVs that end their last order in a specific area, and have no foreseeable or current order, are automatically sent to a safe parking spot instead of blocking driveways that are also used by vehicles that aren’t controlled by our system. No Stopping areas can be set in the admin section, by uploading a new configuration file (.json format). No Stopping Areas will be made visible in map visualisations.

Map filters allow you to see where No Stopping Areas are on your shop floor.

Mobile Robots | Multi-select vehicles in Fleet Management

Recent releases have seen AGV actions being introduced, giving control station users more manual control of AGVs like deactivating sleep mode at the start of a shift or putting AGVs to sleep at the end of a shift. In order to make these manual, click-intensive tasks easier while managing big fleets, we’ve added a simple way for users to select some or all vehicles and apply an AGV action to all selected vehicles in bulk. Multi-select works in conjunction with the search and filter functions.

Selecting a number of vehicles in order to assign an action in bulk.

Mobile Robots | Parking Orders Behavior

While parking AGVs is a vital and necessary task, it also binds fleet capacities in non-productive tasks. To increase the available fleet size, parking orders will now be canceled by the system in favor of more productive tasks like transporting goods. This process is fully automatic and no user interaction is required. Of course, manual interruptions by the control center user is still possible.

Furthermore, it is now possible to specify if a parking spot can be used based on the current loading state of an AGV. This can be configured in the commissioning phase while defining the location of the parking spot.

Warehouse | Operator App

We’ve created an intuitive, native Android app that guides shop floor workers through all their tasks, making sure they have all the information they need at their fingertips. Continuous validation of barcode scans reduces errors and gives workers the confidence they need.

Warehouse | Put Away

The first process to go live in our app controls the movement of items or load carriers that ready to be put into storage. Our system receives a put away order from the customer ERP, finds a suitable storage slot in the warehouse and generates an order to bring the item to the correct destination. Orders are then assigned to the right resource, based on item characteristics (load carrier type, fire safety requirements, …) and resource (worker or conveyor system). Warehouse conveyors are communicated with directly, while workers receive tasks via our Operator App.

For chaotic storage, our system assigns put away orders to resources in larger areas (e.g. workers on a specific level in a Pick Tower), so that items can be stored appropriately.

Put Away of load carriers in the High Rack & Put Away of single items in the Pick Tower


Mobile Robots | Deadlock Avoidance

In our ongoing quest to vanquish bottlenecks, we’ve improved our deadlock detection algorithm that now has better forecasting and considers one-way and two-way traffic. This allows you to manage large fleets of vehicles, increase vehicle density on the shop floor and traffic flows more smoothly.

Two different vehicles that move towards each other, are automatically directed in such a way, that they not get blocked.

Mobile Robots | Area Calculation for Traffic Management

Up until now, our Traffic Manager calculated the biggest area that could be encountered based on all vehicle dimensions and actions on the shop floor. While this simplicity provided a good foundation for the decision-making-processes, it also meant a compromise in terms of realism. With this release, Traffic Management now uses a single pessimistic area per navigation graph, resulting in better and more realistic decisions that improve traffic flow and avoid unnecessary movements of vehicles.

Safety fields, or the areas that must be occupied by AGVs in the physical environment, are highly manufacturer- and AGV type-specific. In addition to the actual dimensions of the AGV, it is therefore necessary to be able to configure these safety fields in a way that is specific to the AGV type. From now on, the option for individual configuration of the safety fields is available when creating the AGV-type.

Mobile Robots | Conditions for AGV Action Execution

Processes at transfer stations are the most complex processes in the entire AGV context. Here, not only the capabilities of the AGV but also the specific conditions at the station itself have to be considered. For more flexibility and better resource utilization, the execution of actions while approaching stations can now be made dependent on the condition of the station itself. This way, AGV specific needs can be better addressed.

Mobile Robots | Display schedule forecast

To give the control center user a better understanding of the current and forcasted schedule, the system now displays the assigned AGV for transports, which are already in execution but also all future plans for not started transports. The user can see which AGV will work on an order, when it is due to start and the forcasted completion time. Schedule forecast is turned on when the Analysis Mode is activated.

Analysis mode now allows you to see the schedule forecast for orders.

Mobile Robots | Re-adding AGVs to fleet

Every so often, AGVs need to be removed from fleet e.g. for maintenance purposes or solving errors. Once all is well with the vehicle, they have to be added back into fleet. Up until now, this could only be done in areas that were free of any route reservations from other AGVs. In high traffic areas finding such areas and navigating the AGV there can take up to 30 minutes. To drastically accelerate this process we've made it possible to add AGVs whether they are currently in an area that is reserved by another vehicle or not, allowing the user to concentrate his time on more useful tasks.

Vehicle can be added to fleet even though residing in an area reserved by another AGV. Afterwards a parking order is assigned in order for it to clear the driveway.

Mobile Robots | Emergency Evacuation Configuration

Different customers need different emergency evacuation behaviour, as not all handle emergency evacuation in the same way. Therefore, it should be possible for customers to configure the behaviour of emergency evacuation.

We’ve made it possible to set whether vehicles should leave the active emergency area in case of an emergency or not. This is particularly important if there are not enough emergency spots within an active emergency area, as vehicles would stop and possibly block emergency vehicles. This new behaviour can be activated in the admin functions.

Mobile Robots | User Interface Improvements

  • We’ve tidied up the Vehicle Type table and added the ability to sort columns by ascending or descending values.
  • Map Legend added to Fleet Management and Asset Management views.

Security improvements

Client certificate for the SSL in our interfaces

Bug Fixes

  • Action IDs are now incremented properly.
  • AGVs in controlled sections now receive a reservation after enrailment to leave the section.
  • Deletion of AGVs currently assigned to a Transport Order correctly possible.
  • Notification "not on graph" now deactivates correctly after showing.<br>
  • Notifications in sidebar are now ordered by criticality first.
  • Areas and nodes are never reserved at the same time, except if the enrailing process runs.
  • All evasion nodes are correctly cleared after AGV job cancellation.
  • Map Import Form is now resetted properly, if a wrong file type was uploaded before.
  • Validation for proper replacement of placeholders in templates now correctly identifies missing replacement of those.
  • Traffic requests can no longer exist, if AGV is already out of fleet.
  • Sidebar now correctly closes automatically when switching the view.
  • We show an error if an invalid file format is uploaded to the admin section.
  • Charging stations show whether they are “controlled” by a asset controller or not.

A bluecap is a mythical fairy or ghost in English folklore that inhabits mines and appears as a small blue flame. If miners treat them with respect, the bluecaps lead them to rich deposits of minerals. Like knockers or kobolds, bluecaps can also forewarn miners of cave-ins.

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