Stacker crane positioning system with computer vision

29 Apr 2024

The latest advances in robotics have contributed to improving the positioning of stacker cranes. Consequently, this has optimised operations in logistics facilities. Mecalux’s pallet stacker cranes are equipped with a computer vision system that enables them to “see” and “understand” their surroundings.

Pallet stacker crane camera equipped with a computer vision system

Automated warehouses are dynamic environments where machines and goods move continuously. Against this backdrop, stacker cranes must store and retrieve pallets from racking quickly and accurately.

Mecalux incorporates computer vision in its stacker cranes to ensure effective operations in warehouses. Through image perception technology, these robotic machines locate the position they must proceed to with absolute precision.

Characteristics of the stacker crane positioning sensor

In the cradle of the stacker crane, between the forks, a small camera accurately detects the reflectors on the racking beams. Using a computer vision system, the camera extracts information from the images it captures. The camera then processes the images with an algorithm that detects and corrects potential positioning errors.

Reflectors on the racking beams to determine the stacker crane’s position

Unlike traditional diffuse reflection sensors, this compact sensor is mounted on the stacker crane for a quick start-up, with no need for readjustments. Moreover, the sensor is designed to operate in a wide range of temperatures, even in automated warehouses at -30 °C.

How does computer vision assist in the positioning system?

Computer vision is a field of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computer systems to extract information from digital images. In the case of stacker cranes, this positioning system allows millimetric adjustments for perfect alignment with the racking locations.

Mecalux’s advanced positioning system for pallet stacker cranes

Advantages of the stacker crane positioning system

  • Time savings. The computer vision sensor expedites the activation of the stacker cranes, avoiding possible stoppages and downtime.
  • Efficient operations. The stacker crane positioning system ensures continuous, uninterrupted operations, even in warehouses with a high pace of work.
  • Error reduction. Computer vision minimises the possibility of error in pallet handling while enhancing the safety and integrity of the goods.