In December 2023, ABB Electrification Norway AS signed a contract with LIS, Movu Robotics distributor in Norway, to install Movu’s escala order fulfilment solution in its production premises in Skien, Norway.

The international technology company has been looking to better use the limited space by moving the storage component out of production and supplying the latter via smaller blocks at a time.

“We talked to ABB about the challenges a few years ago, as we could not deliver the automation size they required at that time. I think that honesty helped build trust. We only sell something if we are sure the solution will work well,” said Urban Jansson, the Sales Manager for Automation at LIS.

“The engineers from ABB were as impressed by the escala solution as we were. The solution is a huge stamp of quality,” said Eirik Toft, Senior Sales Manager at LIS.

ASRS excels in flexibility and availability

Movu escala is a compact ASRS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System) in which autonomous robots move freely in three dimensions to pick highly variable-sized goods.

The system is designed to be an easy entry to complex automation while being more flexible than similar solutions, which are often very standardised in the kind of goods and boxes that can be handled.

To check and assess the escala system, a team from ABB, including engineers and logisticians, went to the Movu factory in Belgium to see the live solution at Movu Robotics Technology and Experience Centre in Lokeren.

“I have worked with automation solutions for many years and have been excited about many. Still, I greatly admired Movu escala as it ticks so many boxes. Its flexibility, efficiency, and scalability completely differ from what we’ve seen before. In addition, it was great to work closely with ABB’s technical staff, who showed a great interest in the engineering work that forms the basis of the solution,” said Eirik Toft.

Kjetil Andersen is head of industrialisation at ABB and confirms what Toft said:

“We liked the flexibility, scalability, and redundancy of having free, autonomous robots. If a robot breaks down, it is still possible to operate the warehouse with somewhat less capacity. That was not possible with the other systems we looked at. If things go wrong, it can come to an abrupt halt.”

Streamlines production in Skien by a large margin

When the escala installation is completed in Skien, it will be 22.5 meters long, 11 meters wide and 14 meters high. There are about 6,000 locations, which are not dependent on being picked from the most accessible first.

Next to the flexibility that allows the entire product catalogue to be collected in the same system, big or small, the automatic input and output are major innovations. The robots automatically move between storage and production, picking and delivering assembled kits rather than individual items.

Previously, such kits had to be left outside and took up a lot of floor space in the middle of the production area, which now allows ABB Electrification Norway AS to build production more compactly.

The system is equipped with two lanes on different floors, which mirror the two floors of the AMR robots that pick and deliver goods between plants and production workers. This allows them to load boxes back into the system at the same time as receiving new ones, saving large amounts of time.

“Success in robotics isn’t just about building advanced machines; it’s also about delivering accessible and reliable solutions. And it’s about forging successful partnerships. Innovation thrives when teams like Movu and LIS come together, combining diverse expertise and perspectives from which the customer benefits in the end. Thanks to our smooth collaboration with LIS, we were able to deliver to the expectations of ABB!” said Stefan Pieters, CEO of Movu Robotics.

“We have experienced a positive collaboration with Movu Robotics and LIS. They responded quickly when we needed advice and provided the resources we needed,” concluded Andersen.