AGVs & Autonomous Mobile Robots Will Change Manufacturing

By Rajkumar Paira

Category:
Technology Trends

Automated guided vehicle (AGV) systems are often used to optimize the flow of materials within the production systems and improve operations and increase worker safety. Production systems must be flexible and must allow the dynamic reconfiguration of the system. Manufacturers need to invest in AGVs for a quick payback on their investment. Mainly, AGVs help reduce labor costs and increase productivity. In fact, reducing labor cost helps lower the total cost of ownership for a manned forklift or manually guided vehicles.

Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) offers the technology of mobility-the mechanisms that allow a mobile robot to move through a real-world environment to perform its tasks including locomotion, sensing, localization, and motion planning. A primary objective of any automation effort should be delivering gains in efficiency that are not possible with a manual process. This is especially true when considering lean manufacturing, where any movement or transportation that is not adding value is considered waste. In the modern automation world, a significant amount of material handling is considered waste because it can be automated with the support of robotics. The connected nature of autonomous mobile robots enables a business to capture movement data and thus run analytics and simulations that are not possible when the movement is conducted by human operators.

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AGVs and autonomous robots will change manufacturing

Users need to evaluate a supplier for not only its product portfolio, but also its solution capabilities for automation solutions. End users need to evaluate suppliers for the important aspects of the application. These aspects include: How quickly could a more cost-effective route to an optimum solution be achieved with the supplier’s product portfolio and its experience in the similar applications? Can a high level of integration be achieved? Will a solution be scalable? Does a solution allow end users to customize for their unique requirements very quickly and cost-efficiently? Does a solution offer forward compatibility for maximum investment protection? Does the supplier offer a consulting approach that will help view automation as a business enabler and help create a business case to justify the investments?

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) systems should be durable, flexible, and provide modular solution/s with short delivery and fast payback times. These should be based on proven technology, so that reliability is excellent and maintenance is easy. AGVs are used to improve the performance of production and warehousing. Through automation in the fleet, impressive cost savings can be achieved, especially in shift work and in longer transfers. Workers can devote their time to more demanding and pleasant tasks instead of monotonous, routine transfers. Also, using automation in the fleet with the help of AGVs increases the safety of work premises.

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