Production, Logistics, Aftermarket

    VDA 5050: Managing Transport in Manufacturing Plants

    Up to 10,000 different vehicle parts are installed in a modern car. The works of the major manufacturers are correspondingly busy. It is crucial for efficient production that the right components are in the right place at the right time. And this is exactly what’s done to a large extent nowadays by Automated Guided Vehicle systems (AGV).

    There are different types of automated vehicles – for example tow tractors, forklifts, undercarriage modules – each performing different tasks and sometimes from multiple manufacturers. The orchestration of the vehicles is correspondingly complex.

    In the past, one fact in particular complicated synchronization: different manufacturers each rely on self-contained systems. Networking was not possible. With the VDA 5050 standard, the VDA, in cooperation with the VDMA and with the support of the KIT IFL, created an interface in 2019 with the help of which vehicles from different manufacturers can be controlled under one control system for the first time.

    In short: VDA 5050 manages transport in manufacturing plants!

    The common interface is nothing less than a revolution for the industry. Peter Kiermaier, Head of Logistics Planning at the BMW Group plants in Dingolfing and Debrecen, explains: "As an active member of the project group, the BMW Group has supported the development of VDA 5050 from the start and has chaired the VDA project group since March 2021. We are already successfully using the VDA 5050 in several projects with smart transport robots, autonomous tugger trains and autonomous forklifts. It is set as the standard when tendering new AGV systems. Due to the simplified connection and integration of new autonomous vehicle types, the expectations of VDA 5050 have so far been fully met. The next steps to expand the VDA 5050, such as the integration of maps and zones, will lead to further synergies."

    And there is tremendous interest in the technology beyond the automotive industry. "With the VDA 5050, we are making the handling of increasingly complex production chains much easier," explains Robert Cameron, head of the Production, Logistics and Aftermarket department at the VDA: "The interface offers correspondingly large opportunities across the branches of industry."

    Last year, an initial practical test was successfully completed as part of VDA 5050, when vehicles from six different manufacturers were moving under the control system of another manufacturer.

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    With the further development to software version 2.0.0 that is now released, the communication interface has made another decisive leap. The necessary and optional parameters for an AGV are now clearly defined in a fact sheet.

    "The new version implemented important experiences from the first customer projects and from the live test at the AGV Mesh-Up last year," explains Andreas Scherb, head of the automated guided vehicle systems department in the VDMA Materials Handling and Intralogistics Trade Association.

    The logic of order acceptance has been simplified and specified. Adjustments to the notation of permissible values and corrections to the permissible characters and field lengths have been implemented. Now the VDA 5050 is significantly more precise in the communication options of the AGV, and that makes it even more efficient.

    One thing is clear: the new version of VDA 5050 ushers in a new era of manufacturing. Welcome to the future!

    Logistics Branch

    Jenny Hertzfeldt

    Supply Chain Digitalization Specialist