Design and development of an innovative integrated and automated system called the Automated Load Handling System (ALHS) for loading and unloading ISO and NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) flat tracks on to defence logistics vehicles
2: DESIGN CHALLENGE:
As the client, Rheinmetall specified a number of design features that would differentiate its load handling system (the 8x8 HX77) from its competitors. Limitations of existing systems were manual handling systems and complex manual control systems that required highly trained operators and imposed risk to the operator, together with an inability to interface with and accommodate intermodal systems. The brief included the need to develop a flexible load handling platform sufficient to accommodate a family of variations to the ALHS system that would appeal to forces across Germany, wider Europe and Australia and NZ. Supashock provided input and options that informed the final specifications.
3: DESIGN SOLUTION:
Achieving desired customer outcomes required Supashock to develop and experimentally test a number of features, namely: - an automatic ISO container handling unit or X-frame that provides the connection between the lifting structure and the container, involving a robotic arm with 'pickers' and image processing - automatic ISO container lock device operated from inside the cabin that locks/unlocks containers remotely requiring only top corner fitting and not all 4 corners (bottom corners are often blocked in poor terrain) - Smart Control System using video cameras for positional reference operated from inside the cabin - automatic change-over between NATO flatrack and ISO container mode
4: DESIGN IMPACT:
The ALHS design and engineering process was an iterative one involving a collaborative approach between the client Rheinmetall and Supashock to finalise client specifications and review alternative concepts and features and add additional functionality. At an early stage, a Concept demonstrator was displayed at a defence conference, EuroSatory in Paris at which industry feedback was captured and fed into further capability design. Further industry showcase opportunities are also planned. The ALHS has undergone 3 iterations with each adding different dimensions and capabilities to meet different market requirements while working to a cost and weight limitation.
5: OTHER KEY FEATURES:
Supashock also developed a Digital Active Safe Load Indicator (DASLI) system to monitor the load and alert the driver whether it is safe to load or unload through a visual and audible indication if the load is too heavy or unevenly distributed. The system also applies machine learning to recognise and respond to different sized containers and integrates multiple links in the form of video camera, automation and image processing to feed into the Cabin Master Control Unit. Supashock and Rheinmetall used a Concept Demonstrator model to display the increased functionality proposed in the ALHS model to a range of Armed Forces at the Paris EuroSatory conference mid-2018 and to gain industry feedback and suggestions for improvement. The IP associated with this engineering and design remains with Supashock Adelaide. This development puts SA at the centre of logistics technology that will feed into a fully autonomous remotely operated unit over time and further reinforce this State's capabilities in defence technologies.