ALIS PIK (Process Infor­ma­tion Coordinator) is a MFCS (Material Flow Control System) subsystem providing a link between the parent ALIS GIK module and peripheral tran­s­port segments.

Tran­s­port routes usually consist of sequences of different process segments, such as:

  • Automated trucks and carts.
  • Roller and hanging chain conveyors.
  • Vertical conveyors and lifting tables.
  • Curved and straight rail-guided VNA lifts.
  • Automated quality control and packaging systems.

PIK module's primary job is to synchronize and coordinate these segments, optimizing the flow of goods from entry to exit points. It operates based on the black box principle — it has all of the infor­ma­tion needed to run the physical tran­s­port independently of other ALIS modules or external systems. To make this possible, material identification points are equiped with various types of addi­tio­nal peripherals, which PIK also operates:

  • Sensors, scales and loading gauges.
  • Barcode scanners and RFID receivers.
  • Signs, lights, computer monitors and other status/infor­ma­tion display devices.

Performance Optimization

Various complexities are to be expected at some ware­house facilities. Both one and two-way tran­s­port routes may exist, individual segments may overlap, or there can be more than one physical route from the entry to the exit point of a particular route.

PIK optimizes ope­ra­tions with real-time analysis of tran­s­portation requi­re­ments as well as the current status, availability and congestion of tran­s­port segments. It dynamically shifts tasks to al­ter­na­tive routes, based on pre­defi­ned or operator assigned priorities.

High-Bay and VNA Ware­houses

A special subset of internal logic is devoted to controlling automated VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) and/or High-Bay (10–40 meters and higher) ware­houses with conventional (straight-rail) or curved-rail guided lifts. The addi­tio­nal functionality in­clu­des:

  • Performance and storage space optimization using special mana­ge­ment algorithms based on independent view of storage location occupancy.

  • Combining inbound and outbound flows to execute sets of two-way tran­s­portation tasks.

  • Optimal coordination of multiple curved-rail guided lifts operating on the same tracks.

  • Strict recording of operating hours and all special events, such as equipment malfunctions or com­mu­ni­ca­tion problems (to help with maintenance and planning).

  • Congestion resolving from a safe distance, with operators using service-mode commands to manually control tran­s­port segments.

Congestion Resolving

In case of a process segment failure, PIK will automatically check for al­ter­na­tive routes and redirect the affected flows, minimizing any in­terr­up­tions to normal ope­ra­tions. This ensures maximum availability of the tran­s­port system.

We have also developed a separate user interface to be used when automatic resolution is not feasible. It contains special tools designed for simple and effective manual handling of such failures as well as other unexpected physical bottle­necks.

History and Users

ALIS PIK is a modern product designed for the new generation of com­mu­ni­ca­tion hardware and software. Software in its present form was designed, developed and tested in the 2004–2016 period.

However, PIK is also based on, or heavily influenced by, the previous generations of similar process control systems, developed between 1988 and 1998 and running on DOS, OS-9 and OS/2 systems.

Some major facilities that use ALIS PIK:

  • Aero d.d., Celje (materials and products ware­house).
  • Krka d.d., Novo mesto (packaging materials ware­house).
  • Lek d.d., Prevalje (raw materials ware­house).
  • Merkur d.d., Ljubljana (consumer products ware­house).
  • Steklarna Hrastnik d.d., Hrastnik (materials and products ware­house).