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1. WO2021067523 - ASSEMBLY MATERIAL LOGISTICS SYSTEM AND METHODS

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[ EN ]

What is claimed is:

1. A method for assembly material logistics and handling comprising: selectively positioning a component transport vehicle positioned along a material aisle in at least one of a component storage area or a component assembly area, the material aisle positioned adjacent to a component rack aisle and extending in an x-coordinate direction;

the transport vehicle:

at a first time, engaging for transport in the storage area a selected one of a plurality of full component containers positioned in the component rack aisle and depositing in the component rack aisle in the storage area an engaged empty component container transported from the assembly area; and

at a second time, engaging for transport in the assembly area a selected one of a plurality of empty component containers positioned in the component rack aisle in the assembly area and depositing in the assembly area an engaged full component container transported from the storage area; and

selectively and reciprocally moving the transport vehicle including at least one of the engaged full component container or the engaged empty component container along the material aisle between the storage area and the assembly area.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of engaging for transport the selected one of the plurality of full component containers or the empty component containers further comprises:

extending a portion of the transport vehicle in a y-coordinate direction into the rack aisle to engage the respective selected full or empty component container, the y-coordinate direction transverse to the x-coordinate direction; and

retracting the portion of the transport vehicle and the respective engaged full or empty component container in the y-coordinate direction from the rack aisle to the material aisle to a secure position on the transport vehicle prior to moving the transport vehicle between the storage area and the assembly area.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the step of engaging the selected one of the

plurality of full component containers or the empty component containers further comprises moving the portion of the transport vehicle in a z-coordinate direction relative to the transport vehicle, the z-coordinate direction transverse to the y-coordinate direction.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of depositing the selected one of the plurality of full component containers or the empty component containers further comprises: extending a portion of the transport vehicle and the engaged selected full component container or the empty component container in a y-coordinate direction from the material aisle into the rack aisle to disengage the respective selected full or empty component container, the y-coordinate direction transverse to the x-coordinate direction; and

retracting the portion of the transport vehicle in the y-direction from the rack aisle to the material aisle prior to moving the transport vehicle between the storage area and the assembly area.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein the step of disengaging the selected one of the plurality of full component containers or the empty component containers further comprises moving the portion of the transport vehicle in a z-coordinate direction relative to the transport vehicle, the z-coordinate direction transverse to the y-coordinate direction.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein the transport vehicle includes a first component container support and a second component container support, the second container support independently operable relative to the first container support, the method further comprising: engaging with the second container support the selected one of the plurality of empty component containers in a predetermined position in the assembly area rack aisle and depositing with the first container support the transported full component container in the predetermined position in the assembly area rack aisle.

7. The method of claim 6 wherein following engaging of the empty component container with the second container support and while the transport vehicle continues to engage the empty component container, the method further comprising the step of indexing the transport vehicle along the material aisle to align the first container support carrying the full container with the predetermined position to deposit the full container in the predetermined position in the assembly area rack aisle vacated by the empty component container.

8. The method of claim 6 wherein engaging the empty component container with the second container support in the predetermined position occurs at a first time and depositing the full component container in the predetermined position occurs at a second time, the second time later than the first time.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein the transport vehicle comprises a first component container support and a second component container support, the second container support independently operable relative to the first container support, the method further comprising: depositing with the second container support the empty component container transported from the assembly area in a first predetermined position in the storage area rack aisle and engaging with the with first container support in a second predetermined position the selected one of the plurality of full component containers positioned in the rack aisle in the storage area.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein following deposit of the empty component container with the second container support, the method further comprising the step of indexing the transport vehicle along the material aisle to align the first container support with the second predetermined position to engage the full container with the first container support.

11. The method of claim 1 wherein the transport vehicle comprises a first transport vehicle and a second transport vehicle, the second transport vehicle independently operable from the first transport vehicle, the method further comprising one of:

at the first time, engaging for transport the selected one of the plurality of full component containers in the storage area rack aisle by the first transport vehicle and depositing the engaged empty component container transported from the assembly area in the storage area rack aisle by the second transport vehicle; and

at the second time, engaging for transport the selected one of the plurality of empty containers in the assembly area rack aisle by the second transport vehicle and depositing the

engaged full component container transported from the storage area in the assembly area rack aisle vacated by the empty component container by the first transport vehicle.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the first transport vehicle and the second transport vehicle move synchronously and coordinatingly together along the material aisle between the storage area and assembly area.

13. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one of the transport vehicle engaging the full or empty component container, depositing the full or empty containers, or reciprocally moving along the material aisle, is conducted autonomously.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein the transport vehicle includes a control system for powered propulsion and directional navigation, the method further comprising:

receiving wireless data signals from at least one of a local or a central control system for use by the transport vehicle to autonomously move the transport vehicle in a predetermined direction and directionally navigate along a predetermined path of travel.

15. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

positioning the component storage area upstream of the component assembly area; and positioning in straight linear alignment the storage area rack aisle and the assembly area rack aisle.