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30 November 2018

What is an AGV?

What is an AGV?

Flexibility is key to FlexQubes concept and this includes how our carts are transported within your facility. There are many options that a facility could use when deciding on the best way to transport their materials.  This could be any of the below methods:

  • Human
  • Push Unit
  • Power Caster
  • Tow Tractor
  • AGV
  • Mother Daughter
  • Forklift
  • Conveyor

For every stage through the material handling process, each of these transport options have their benefits. Forklifts have been one of the most popular options to transport materials within a facility, but recently there has been a large push towards forklift free initiatives as facilities are looking to become safer and more efficient. On top of this, the development of Industry 4.0 has seen many manufacturers begin to look at Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV’s) as a possible transportation method, as the technology becomes cheaper.

But firstly, what is an AGV?

They are defined as: “AGV/AGC/SDV are driverless, electric motor vehicles, with a programming capability of path selection, destination, collision avoidance, and destination. AGV offer advantages in field of logistic systems by handling material flows automatically.” 

On top of this AGV’s need to fulfil some basic requirements before it can be considered an AGV. The requirements are below:

Self Driving: An AGV needs to be self-driving for it to be classified as an AGV. This means that there shouldn’t be any operators involved in the driving or transportation of the AGV.

Collision Warning: There also needs to be some sort of collision warning, before it is classified as an AGV. This means that the AGV is intelligent, or equipped with sensors which can detect obstacles, both moving and not moving.

Navigation: If it is an AGV it needs to have some sort of navigation technology. In other words, it needs to be able to navigate within the facility on its own.

Path Selection: It needs to be able to follow a path set by the operators/engineers.

Destination Selection: Involved in the path selection is also the destination selection option, which means that the AGV can select different destinations that it will arrive at.

How can you guide an AGV in your facility?

There are several options on how you can guide an AGV through your facility.

Magnetic Tape: This is a guided path with magnetic tape that is laid down on the floor. Using a sensor on the AGV it then can follow the path throughout the facility.

Magnetic Spot: This is like the magnetic tape, but with metallic magnetic pucks that are installed on or in the floor of the facility. Once again, the AGV is fitted with a sensor which allows it to follow the line of magnetic spots.

Inductive Guidance: With this method of guidance the floor needs to be cut, and a wire is manually placed in the floor for the AGV to follow. This does mean that the paths are fixed and are not easy to change. However, the paths are continuous and very well marked on the floor.

Laser Guidance: The facility area is mapped out and stored within the AGV’s computer memory. Then the facility needs to be equipped with multiple, fixed reference points, and reflective stripes that can be detected by the AGV.

Natural Navigation: With natural navigation the area/ facility is also mapped out and stored within the AGV. This method only needs a few fixed reference points for guidance and has dynamic control of blocking and traffic management.

As the trend grows towards more dynamic and agile manufacturing facilities, along with the fall in prices for technology, AGVs will continue to become a big talking point in manufacturing circles. A report release by McKinsey Institute has predicted that the potential economic contribution of new technologies such as “advanced robotics, mobile internet and 3D printing” is expected to return between US trillion and US trillion globally by 2025. So obviously there is a lot of potential for dynamic and intelligent AGVs in many facilities.   

If you are looking for material handling applications that can integrate easily with any transportation method contact us today at [email protected]

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