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Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV)

No Longer a "Simple" Machine: The Advancement of the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV)

Bastian Solutions | 01 September 2011

[caption id="attachment_4545" align="alignright" width="224" caption="AGVs are increasingly becoming a pivotal part of complex material handling systems."][/caption] When you think about an Automated Guided Vehicle -- what typically comes to mind? For many, it is the simple machine used to do little more than move a part or material from one defined location to the next. While AGVs are most well-known for their use in distribution and manufacturing environments, application of the Automated Guided Vehicle has broadened during recent years to include advanced robotics technology that is no longer restricted to the industrial environment. More recent AGV applications include use in the healthcare, military, and transportation logistics markets. As research and development continues, it is likely we will start to see this technology become more prevalent in our everyday lives. So what are the advantages of the Automated Guided Vehicle? The answer to this question continues to develop as new applications are researched and explored. One of the primary advantages spans from the flexibility of the technology. When fixed systems are too invasive or burdensome for the environment, AGVs offer a flexible, dynamic approach to the required operation. In addition, elements including safety, accuracy, and increased productivity play a defining factor in establishing the role of the AGV as one of the staples in the development of a fully-automated material handling solution.

Advantages of Automated Guided Vehicles:

  1. Offers a Dynamic Design Solution

    Anyone that has ever had the task of relocating a fixed conveyor system knows that this can be a cumbersome undertaking. Through the use of advanced AGV technology and wireless routing, vehicles can be quickly reprogrammed to change path or operation, eliminating the need for expensive retrofitting. New directions, tasks, and work cells can be created almost instantaneously without the need for physical equipment installation.
  2. Modular System Elements

    After the control system is in place, AGVs can be added as required by the growth of the operation. A fleet can start with a single robot then grow as demand increases, decreasing the initial investment and allowing for a gradual and seamless implementation. AGVs can be easily integrated with robotic attachments and existing or new material handling equipment to develop a fully automated system.
  3. Safe and Predictable Technology

    Through the advancement of control systems AGVs offer a safe and predictable method of delivery, while avoiding interference with human and building factors. AGVs can operate almost around the clock, without the need for breaks and vacation time. In addition, AGVs operate in conditions that may not be suitable for human operators, such as extreme temperatures and hazardous environments.
  4. Increased Accuracy and Productivity

    Automated Guided Vehicles, combined with RF technology, interface with the Warehouse Control System or Warehouse Management System to improve accuracy and efficiency. AGVs have little downtime, and operate at a fixed rate to meet a predictable metric for operational activity.

Automated Guided Vehicles are no longer used simply to move a load from point A to B; they are part of a more complex system of operations that deliver benefits to a wide variety of markets. So whether it is delivering parts in a warehouse, distributing medicine in a hospital, or covering ground as a military tracking vehicle, it can safely be said that we have not seen even a portion of what this "simple" machine has to offer.

Author: Bastian Solutions


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