AGVs – The unsung heroes in material handling
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have been used in heavy industries for more than fifty years. Thanks to innovative conversion technologies, the once relatively high investments for custom-engineered and associated service costs are now non-existent. Today, AGVs are performing their duties unnoticed in everyday distribution applications, quickly becoming the unsung heroes of our material handling processes.
AGV applications offer significant benefits over manual trucks and fixed automation systems. Primarily, they maximize efficiency of material handling processes at a reasonable investment cost. Specifically, AGVs are:
- Safe – Built-in safety protocols and sensors prevent dangerous incidents, while leaving other traffic unaffected
- Economical – Perform long distance deliveries without fixed assets such as conveyors
- Agile – Intelligently and safely complete complex multi-point moves
- Flexible – Capable of interfacing with a variety of stands, automation, manufacturing operations
- Dynamic – Adapt to changing environmental conditions
- Available – Multiple AGVs can operate on the same guide path
Compared to fixed systems and manual trucks, AGVs offer a flexible dynamic solution for reliable and safe material handling, with minimal space requirements and without impeding other traffic.
Additionally, using advanced technology and wireless routing, AGVs can be quickly updated to change path or operation, eliminating the need for expensive retrofitting.
Excellent return on investment (ROI)
In terms of investment, AGVs represent a relatively low investment compared to the improvements in efficiency they deliver. And, thanks to lower total operational overhead, including reduced preventive maintenance and repair costs, the payback period (ROI) is usually 1–2 years.
Industrial trucks can be converted into AGVs using NDC Solutions, developed by Kollmorgen, and provided through worldwide partners. These NDC Solutions can be customized to satisfy specific manufacturing and warehouse requirements. Likewise, they are easily integrated into warehouse management systems (WMS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, increasing efficiency further.