The idea of having vehicles that are automatically guided has always been around since the concept originated back in the early 1900s. Human drivers tend to be very unpredictable and mostly work with moods, the idea was in development and constantly getting improved for the manufacturing process.
They are, however, not entirely independent as they rely on several processes that involve:
- Instructions set for it
They use distinctive pathways on the floor, cameras, lasers, and radio waves to locate where they intend to go, at specific periods.
AGVs are computerized vehicles using guidance systems and digital maps in determining their positions, the best rate of movement, and location about where it’s intended to go. They are powered by batteries and run on electric motors, having the ability to complete tasks in warehousing and loading without human interference.
The self-powered AGVs have the ability to move and stack pallets, complete assemblies while loading transfers, towing heavy luggage, functions previously performed by people. They have improved efficiency in production, eradicating humans from hostile and potentially unsafe conditions as it tries to overcome human errors.
The AGVs started as a towing method for trailers to aid in the production process. They were then considered as the nice conveniences that reduced load for production and warehousing. Because of technological advancements, designers have explored ways of improving factory conditions, leading to a wide range of capabilities and uses.
Types of AGVs
They are designed in doing repetitive activities but mainly to complete specific tasks. Unlike humans, they only stop when they need to be repaired or recharged.
- Towing AGVs – also known as tugs have the ability to pull several tons hence reducing dangers associated with heavy equipment. They can also pull machine components and other materials that can be unsafe when handled by humans.
- Fork AGVs – they are used in retrieving and placing of objects while moving and stacking boxes. They supply automated machines in the production stage then transfer the products to storage. This is the most important AGVs as it improves on cost-saving through the replacement of lift trucks and the workers involved in the process of movement.
- Heavy load AGVs – some industries are involved with heavy cargo, such as aviation and construction, who would require strong AGVs to handle heavy repetitive tasks. They are normally built wide with large bases and solid wheels. They also have the option of being built to custom specifications. Most are designed not to move in many directions, working like a conveyor belt. This means they only move forward and backward, giving it longevity in its use.
- AGV robots – are guided vehicles with robot limbs. This fully eradicates human intervention as the AGV will lift the objects by itself and place them exactly where it is needed. They are best used in the auto industry as they can aid in the assembly while conveying the car to other processes before completion. They have improved to a point they have removed the human error. Being stronger than the average human, they remove cases of injuries while improving overall work efficiency.
AGV systems being used currently are electric-powered and will keep running until recharging is needed. The AGVs have methods by which they get the work done. These are the technologies employed in handling the tasks.
- Guided vehicles – they rely on their programming from their computer units to handle tasks. They will rely on schedules and timing, which is dictated by the program embedded in them. They do repetitive tasks that are required in specific periods.
- Laser-guided vehicles – they use laser technology in doing repetitive tasks. These tasks range in transportation within the warehouses or over a distance, handling heavy loads. Lasers are used in the determination of obstacles and how best to avoid them.
- Self-guided vehicles – they are computer-controlled units without human intervention. They are used in moving continuous tasks. They are common in automotive assembly, food processing mailing, and plastic manufacturing. They are also commonly indoor machinery doing most activities bounded between the walls.
- Self-propelled vehicles – better known as automatic guided vehicles, performing tasks in operational processes. They are powered by industrial strength batteries or connected directly to the current. They perform long repetitive tasks around the facility.
- Towing vehicles – these are purpose-built wheel based vehicles that aid in the movement of goods from point to point. They may work with human intervention or other robots in getting most of the warehousing work done.
Benefits of Automation
- It reduces the chances of errors.
- Improves the quality of goods produced by factories.
- Increases the production and efficiency approach in manufacturing.
- Jobs are now made easier and quicker, especially conveyance.
- Cuts down on the costs of production
- Improves safety in the workplace.