AGV and Warehouse Benefits
Increased demand for material handling process automation across all key industrial sectors is the driving force behind the rapid growth within the Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGV) market.
As the industrial sectors are so diverse and their importance, AGVs must comply with strict requirements for product safety, reliability, and market access.
AGV Warehouse Operations
Wheel-based AGVs are computer-controlled load-bearing carriers that move along the warehouse floor and operate efficiently without an onboard operator or driver. Movement is governed by a combination of robotic software and sensor-based direction systems.
One of the reasons they are so efficient is that they are safe - they traverse along an expected path with precise acceleration and deceleration control. Add the automatic obstacle detection defense guards, AGVs deliver safe movement of all loads within their capacity.
An AGV application might include the transport of raw materials, work-in-process items, and finished goods supporting the complete manufacturing production line. The storage and retrieval of goods is their key role, but they are able to support the movements required for picking in warehousing and distribution applications.
The complex software applications that monitor and control a fleet of AGVs are highly sophisticated, requiring real-time operational detection and directional capabilities. This software uses wireless connectivity to locate and collect data about each unit's location and operational ability. It integrates with its internal database for destination and routing logic and communicates individually to each AGV via radio frequency.
A wide range of commands are provided via the software nerve center, stop, start, increase/ decrease speed, turn/ reverse, etc. It also monitors and confirms interactions that the AGV has with other material handling equipment.
AGVs are utilized in a variety of warehouse support processing and handling activities:
- Parts/ just-in-time (JIT) delivery: Hauling containers of parts/ materials to locations for quick delivery or assembly
- Order picking: Leading pre-ordered products to trailer-loading sections for distribution and bringing a staging area for a human picker to group selected items
- Staging: Transferring pallets for various production processes
- Accumulation: Collecting all required parts for an assembly
- Assembly: Product transfers throughout the major production processes
- Transportation: Loading pallets with predetermined objects and unsecured parts
- Warehousing: Relocating products from packaged and delivered stretch wrapping items to loading docks or storage containers
- Transfer/ shuttle: Safely shift all load types across high traffic walkways
AGVs in the Warehouse industry provide a variety of benefits, which are as follows:
- Accountability: Once a product is loaded aboard an AGV, it is continuously tracked - misplaced valuable products will be eradicated or highly minimized.
- Automatic line balancing: In a busy production environment, multiple operational activities increase safety risks - AGVs alleviate those risks by balancing the concurrent activity occurring with efficiency and without lost effectiveness.
- Cost control: The costs associated with an AGV are predictable, whereas labor costs can fluctuate depending on external economic factors and strategic business decisions.
- Facility maintenance: Automated collision evasion capabilities will limit any damages that occur within the facility.
- Flexibility: An AGV's route can be adjusted as production and handling requirements develop over time.
- Fewer restrictions: AGVs reduce access issues that are created by conveyors and require more limited space than traditional forklifts. This allows for narrower aisles, reducing warehouse floor-space.
- Reduced operating costs: Battery charging and minor handling tasks can be automated within an AGV system, and the regulated acceleration/ deceleration process minimizes wear-and-tear on all components.
- Reduction in product damage: Studies have shown that AGVs control and supervise products considerately, reducing scrap and waste associated with manual intervention.
- Repeatability: AGVs will perform all monotonous and repetitive movement tasks both predictably and reliably.
- Safety: AGVs will always follow their guiding path as determined by the management software - and they will gracefully stop if they find an obstruction, improving the safety of themselves and all neighboring personnel.
- Scheduling: Because of their reliability and on-time delivery, AGVs improve scheduling abilities and the efficiency of operations - estimating large warehouse tasks becomes more science than guesswork, as the AGVs predictability can be measured on its planned workload and adjusted if needed.
- Scalability: More AGVs can be added to the existing fleet so as to expand overall warehouse capacity and overall operational output.