A New Age in Efficiency: AGVs

Automated guided vehicles, or AGVs, have become an increasingly popular means of transporting materials during the in-plant stage of production.  They come in numerous variations that serve unique purposes.  However, all of them are aimed at making a plant more efficient.  AGVs accomplish this by operating without humans.  This reduces production time that is prolonged because of human error.  In addition, they can fill some of a company’s labor costs that in-plant production demands.

First Type of AGV

Unit load carrying AGVs specialize in moving materials on its deck mechanism.  This is usually located on the top of the vehicle.  Once the load is on the unit, it can move the load to different locations in the plant.  This is a great time saver.  AGVs require setup programming to map the machine to a company’s specific plant.  After the AGV has the layout of a plant, it can follow these preset routes to move around the plant.  Unit load carrying AGVs have the added benefit of being able to carry multiple loads.  In addition, because of this, only a few of these units are required to fulfill a plant’s needs.  This is a huge money saver.  Ultimately, unit load carrying AGVs are a worthwhile investment for companies that are interested in reducing their labor costs.

AGVs
Image source: kmhsystems.com

Second Type of AGV

Another type of AGV is the“forked AGVs” that specialize in lifting and moving materials in the in-plant stage of production.  Their forked shape allows them to pick up materials quickly, and without error.  This can help supplement workers who operate forklifts or electric pallet jacks.  Similarly to unit-load carrying AGVs, they can have different routes programmed into them to allow them to efficiently move materials around a plant.

Third Type of AGV

The final type is the tugger or tow train AGVs.  These specialize in moving long trains of carts of materials.  The most beneficial feature is that its “carrying train” that can increase or decrease at the company’s discretion.  If a company wants to add more crates to the tugger AGV to speed up efficiency — it can.  This ability is groundbreaking because it enables companies to use a small number of tugger AGVs to complete tasks that would have previously required numerous machines and humans.

Egemin’s E’gv® Compact Tugger
Egemin’s E’gv® Compact Tugger. Source: egeminusa.com

Disadvantages of AGVs

The main obstacle that deters companies from embracing AGVs is the massive cost of purchasing these machines.  The cost of a typical AGV system is 2 million dollars which is a large barrier of entry considering most companies would need multiple units to fill their production needs.  Many companies can’t see past this initial investment because it will mean they will initially operate at a sizeable loss.  However, companies are already seeing returns on investments after just 3 years.

Long term, companies can expect to see savings of upwards of 5 million dollars after the 10th year of using AGVs.  In addition, they are incredibly durable and do not need frequent repurchase.  They are also becoming increasingly profitable because of different software updates and advancements which allow them to operate faster and with less errors.

The Future of AGVs

Despite the massive cost of AGV systems, there is a reason thousands of companies are embracing these new machines.  By moving materials with complete efficiency, they work to improve a company’s bottom line by reducing labor costs.  They will continue to become more common in in-plant operations as more companies see the massive returns.

Original source: mhlnews.com