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As demand for production has fallen and plants have downsized, so the AGV has come to be seen as a luxury more than a tool for increasing efficiency. After all, as a plant manager, would you rather keep fork truck and tugger train operators or lay them off to invest in what is a very expensive piece of equipment? On the other hand, the growing demand for lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles, that must be made on existing lines, has caused a fundamental change in the way many car makers view the need for line flexibility.
The sheer number of variants that an OEM must be prepared to make, often in an existing, older facility, means that AGVs are a very smart solution to handling complex and constantly changing inventory.
At present, typical AGV applications in the automotive industry include automated raw material delivery, automated work in process movements between manufacturing cells, and finished goods transport.
AGVs link shipping and receiving, warehousing, and production; with just-in-time part deliveries that minimize lineside storage requirements. They can also help create the fork-free manufacturing environment that every plant in the automotive industry is seeking. In the correct applications, AGVs can be very useful — in driveline transport and shifting material delivery systems at point of use.
There you can use very low cost AGVs and get the best from them. Automated guided carts or AGCs, have also found favour with volume carmakers. Conveyors on AGVs and supply lines are non-driven; the containers are pulled from and pushed to the supply conveyor via a special system mounted on each AGV. YG - This depends on the complexity of the system and the customer situation. Typically, somewhere between four months for very basic systems, and up to nine months for very complex systems.
Over the years we have developed a series of standard interfaces. YG - We always select the guidance system to be the best fit for the application. Wire technology is reliable but has seen less implementation the last five years due to the impact on the environment floor cutting and carving.
Strip is very old and typically not used in industrial environments. Laser technology is the most flexible, simplest and quickest to install and is thus most popular.
This allows for the greatest flexibility in programming of AGVs and layout downloading is now the most commonly used radio method as compared to narrowband. Signals are sent via as many radio frequencies as possible, so there is less chance of radio interference. A trailer can be unloaded or loaded through a series of predefined unloading sequences.
The AGV autonomously looks where the loads are located in the truck, picks them up and drives them to the right location; on the line, in the warehouse with or without racks , to buffer stock, etc. The system works no matter what type or position of the trailer, when unloading dock or dock leveller, nature of the load pallet size, reel size, etc. YG - When the battery is running down, the AGV will finish its current job and drive automatically to a recharging station where the battery is exchanged either manually or automatically.
When the AGVs have no work to do, they can go to an automatic recharging station via floor contacts to recharge the battery. In theory, AGVs can address all these challenges and oust the fork truck forever; the key is in the control systems. The heart of the latest AGV control systems is often an on-board PC that runs the navigation software required to guide the vehicles throughout the system.
A sophisticated control architecture will support laser, inertial, magnetic or wire guidance, or a combination of these on a single vehicle. Added to this is the necessity for the control system to mesh with the existing IT environment.
It needs to be fully compatible with all pre-existing ERP packages, operating software and schedulers, and it needs to be able to receive orders directly from the ERP system. While it may seem that these demands are best met when building a new plant, one great advantage of AGVs is their flexibility; because there are very few fixed installation demands, control systems can be added on to existing networks. Where AGVs are being introduced for the first time, wired or wireless installations can often be made during a weekend or over short production breaks.
This is in stark contrast to almost any other type of material handling system outside of fork trucks , where lines must be re-designed or freshly installed. And with the proliferation of laser, radio signal and inertial guidance systems, the plant manager does not even have to consider the disruption of disturbing concrete floors to install magnetic strips or wires for the AGVs to follow.
At the Porsche car factory in Zuffenhausen, on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany, 16 magnetically-guided AGVs automated guided vehicles link the automated components storage with the production floor. They transport normal pallets, box pallets 1, x x 1, mm and special pallets 1, x 2, x 2, mm with a maximum payload of 1,kg. Two different vehicle types, fitted with different-sized load carriers, operate the almost metre route between the high bay storage and the 21 transfer points.
These are fitted with two-strand chain conveyors with a retractable cross transfer unit to bridge gaps at the load transfer points. These vehicles also have two-strand chain conveyors, in this case without the transfer unit. All vehicles travel at a maximum speed of 1. In addition to controlling all AGV activities, the software manages order fulfilment and routing. Communication with the 16 AGVs is via broadband radio; communication with the conveyor belts and with building infrastructure such as fire doors is via exchange of signals.
In preparation for its next generation of electrified, intelligent and connected vehicles, Nissan is introducing a programme of major advancements in its production operations.
CEO Adrian Hallmark has led Bentley since February when he returned to the company he originally left back in as sales and marketing director. Automotive Manufacturing Solutions AMS is the essential resource for automotive manufacturing professionals and suppliers globally. Site powered by Webvision Cloud.
Skip to main content Skip to navigation. Remote handling by radio control. Fixed routes and flexibility Control systems — the devil is in the digital. AMS - Laser, wire, floor strip, magnetic - what is the favoured guidance? AMS - What is your opinion of broadband installations? Broadband buddies. Related articles. Article Nissan lines up its next-gen factory technology TZ In preparation for its next generation of electrified, intelligent and connected vehicles, Nissan is introducing a programme of major advancements in its production operations.
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