AGV’s & AGC’s are self-guided vehicles with onboard controls and sensors.
Automated Guided Vehicles are used to transport loads of materials to a destination. Generally, this operation would be performed by forklifts, conveyors, or pallet jacks, etc. AGV’s are best utilized where automating high volume and/or repetitive material movements are required and little to no human oversight is needed to act. They are especially useful when creating “barriers” to movement (on-floor conveyor lines etc.) is not possible/desired or when changes to the facility layout occur frequently.
Batteries or inductive power from in-floor power pickups power AGV’s. Battery types for AGV’s include: Flooded Lead Acid Batteries, Thin Plate Pure Lead “TPPL,” Absorbed Glass Mat “AGM” and Lithium to name a few.
There are several different guidance options for AGV’s and choosing the correct one for your facility is very important.
In-Floor Inductive Wire Guidance
An inductive wire has a path cut into an existing slab (or poured in a new facility) that is routed throughout a facility and then covered in concrete or epoxy to be sealed into the floor. This is a simple and robust guidance type because it isn’t concerned with RF interference, moved or blocked reflectors or most of the other issues that can occur with other guidance types. Most facilities don’t use this more often because of the difficulty and costs associated with both the initial installation of the guide wire as well as the difficulty making any changes to the routes in the future.
On-Floor Magnetic Tape Guidance
This form of guidance uses a magnetic tape that is adhered to the surface of the facility floor, and the AGV/AGC uses sensors to follow the tape alomg its route. This is a popular alternative to in-floor wire guidance because of the ease of installation and simplicity of making route changes in the future. A consideration with this type of guidance is high traffic areas can cause the tape to tear or come up which causes the AGV/AGC to stop.
This is the most popular and implemented type of AGV guidance. Installers mount reflective targets throughout the facility at known positions along the various AGV’s routes. A laser scanner is mounted on top of the vehicle and strobes the reflectors located throughout the facility to navigate. The laser scanner sends strobes out looking for reflective targets around the facility. The AGV’s control software calculates the exact vehicle position via triangulation from these returned signals and guides the vehicle along its route.
This is the newest type of navigation and uses existing objects to continuously determine where the vehicle is to remove the need for reflectors and other infrastructure.
System Benefits of AGV’s and AGC’s
- Easily adapted to existing facilities
- Carts / Vehicles can be configured to handle various applications
- Quiet and safe operation
- Cart paths can be easily modified (depending on guide path type)
- 24/7 Operations
ASI AGV/AGC Advantages vs. Traditional Fixed-Path Conveyors
- No fixed overhead or floor mounted supports required
- Minimizes dedicated floor space and allows the multi-purpose use of space
- Safety – sensors stop the AGV if someone or something blocks its path
- Programmable – With a myriad of control methods available, AGVs and AGCs can be programmed to service all areas of your facility
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