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Automated guided vehicles, otherwise known as AGVs, are robotic, computer-controlled vehicles used for the internal and external transport of materials. They are fully-automated material handling vehicles. AGVs are used for repetitive transportation tasks in warehouses and manufacturing environments. They run on plant floors or pavement and are programmed to carry loads in specific areas.

AGV systems run on wheels, and in addition to the vehicle itself, consist of host software, wireless communication, user interface and a battery with charger.

They use wireless routing, video, and proximity sensors to move around their surroundings.

These sophisticated systems are flexible in that they are designed to move many load types, heights, weights and aisle widths. When space saving is important, they work out very well.

Their automated movement can be achieved by various means, such as laser triangulation, natural feature, optical, inertial, wire, magnetic tape and by magnetic grid.

Why Utilize AGVs?

Whether your operation is in Washington or Oregon, automatic guided vehicles are flexible enough to excel in many different industries, from manufacturing and warehouses, to pharmaceutical and automotive, to name just a few. Many applications can be accomplished at any time of the day or night, such as product storage, pallet handling, goods retrieval, parts delivery and truck loading.

In addition, uses for these automated vehicles have increased during recent years to include advanced robotics technology that is no longer limited to an industrial environment.

There are many benefits to these vehicles. It is no longer a technology of the future. They are here and now being incorporated into successful businesses which are leaving the competition behind.

Benefits of Automatic Guided Vehicles

Increased accuracy. In an industrial setting, many errors can be the result of worker mistakes. Fatigue, distraction or apathy can all contribute to lower precision. When working with automatic guided vehicles, this doesn’t have to be the case. Programming will prevent these types of mistakes. There will be better precision in all movements.

When efficiency is increased, the accuracy of your inventory is also more predictable. You can order materials as you need them, preventing time lost by employees or from ordering items you don’t need. The reduction in picking and shipping errors will be noticeable.

Reduced costs. Labor costs are reduced when a business doesn’t have to pay employees to do tasks. Labor reduction and turnover costs can be all but eliminated.

Costs are also lowered by increasing workplace safety. That includes reduced insurance rates, OSHA penalties and worker injuries.

Safety of facilities is improved also. Structural repair is reduced or eliminated, because forklift accidents aren’t happening.

The cost of running facilities is affected also. Utility costs are reduced because they don’t require specific temperatures at which to operate and can run in a low-light environment. There is a reduced need for electricity.

Increased safety. Forklift accidents can be a thing of the past. Equipment, racks and facility damage can be reduced or eliminated.

AGV’s can perform tasks that could be dangerous for humans, including hazardous substances, moving heavy materials and working in extreme temperatures. Removing the human element removes the potential for accidents and injuries.

They operate in a smooth and controlled manner, with predictable and consistent acceleration and capped top speeds.  Charging and battery handling can happen automatically. The controlled acceleration and deceleration wear and tear on vehicle parts are at a minimum.

AGVs consistently follow their guide path, stopping if they come across something or someone in its path and provide audible and visual warnings of their presence. Safety of personnel is a priority.

Modern AGVs are provided with sophisticated collision avoidance systems that increase the safety of facilities and people.

Increased flexibility. They are capable of interfacing and operating in a variety of manufacturing operations. There are multiple AGV options, to include custom built solutions designed for applications that define unique requirements.

They are beneficial in not only manufacturing and warehouses, but Distribution Centers, Food & Beverage companies, Pharmaceutical, Automotive, Hospitals, Military, Transportation, and Chemicals Operations.

AGV systems can be easily customized to fit the needs of the various loads transported.

These systems are no longer used simply to move a load from one point to another, although they do that well. They have become part of more complicated operations that work in a variety of businesses. The robotic capabilities can be seen distributing medicine in a hospital, delivering materials in a warehouse and covering ground as a military tracking vehicle. The possibilities are exciting.

Reduced damage to structures and product. Human error can unfortunately result in damaged goods and avoidable accidents. Structural costs and product replacement don’t have to be a necessary part of the cost equation.

Scheduling consistency. Their output can be reliably computed and predicted every time. Because of this reliability, on-time delivery can streamline operations, improve reputations and optimize results.

Lower cost than fixed automation systems. One of the reasons factories use these systems more than any other industry is that they perform similar duties to that of fixed automation systems, like conveyors. AGVs are less costly to implement once set up and don’t get in the way of operations during that time.

It’s easy to adjust workflow and change a layout to accommodate your business’s changing needs. They can be easily reprogrammed to follow new paths.

The task of relocating a fixed conveyor system is not an easy one. Advanced technology and wireless routing enable automated vehicles to quickly reprogram to change their capabilities. This eliminates the cost of retrofitting. New tasks, work cells, and directions can be implemented fast without having to install physical equipment.

Large investment savings are means of looking into the future of your business. Another way of doing this is via their long service life which is upwards of 10 years long.

Easy to expand. As your company needs grow, you can always implement additional AGVs as you need them. It is sometimes called a “modular system element” and allows you to grow slowly as your needs warrant. You can expand your set and become mostly or fully automated as becomes necessary. In this way you only invest as business demands allow you to, which is convenient and economically savvy.

Robotic attachments and new material handling equipment can be easily incorporated into your fully automated system as your operation grows and changes.

Increased profitability. Your fleet can be run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you want it to. With reduced costs and increased productivity, profit will inevitably increase. They don’t need vacation time or recuperation.

They open up new possibilities and opportunities for the market with every advancement they make. They are the most dynamic material handling equipment available today

With available data analytics and tracking abilities, businesses can refine processes to save money and keep more accurate track of inventory.

Higher quality task completion. These robotic automated material handlers reduce improper handling of loads and pallets so that everything is consistently dealt with. More precise loads and pallets tracking within facilities becomes the new reality.

AGVs handle products gently, eliminating damaged products and waste.

Because they offer reliable and predictable material handling of manufactured products, production backups are no longer a hassle. The production line becomes balanced.

The Future Of AGVs In Washington And Oregon

There is no doubt Automated Guided Vehicles will soon become an integral component of automated work facilities. There is a reason many Fortune 500 companies are incorporated these systems into their operations.

Do your facilities involve process automation, multi-shift applications, repetitive and stable loads, or increased safety needs? Or do you have a situation where it is either not appropriate to use a manual forklift or just beneficial to incorporate automation? Contact us today to go over any questions or concerns you may have regarding AGV’s. Our knowledgeable staff is always eager to help determine what is the best fit for your operation.