AGV Case Study and Future Featured Applications
In the summer of 2015, a major truck body manufacturer was awarded a walk-in van order to be built and delivered within a very tight deadline.
This company’s leadership team immediately initiated a plan to source a location for a new manufacturing facility that would employ the latest in advanced manufacturing processes.
A location in the US Southeast was finally selected, and after significant research concerning automation and conveyance methods, Handling Specialty was chosen as the best solution provider for their automated guided vehicles (AGVs). Over 350,000 square feet of production area and aggressive delivery deadlines meant a large-scale automated operation was a must.
Automated Guided Vehicles supplied by Handling Specialty were custom engineered to meet the capacity and dimensional characteristics of the product as well as the duty cycle, custom tooling and speed requirements of their new assembly line. In this project, the AGVs were equipped with guidance sensors designed to read smart tape affixed to the shop floor, which was used to guide the automated vehicles along the assembly line. The AGVs provided forward/reverse, zero-turn and crabbing motion capabilities along with variable speed control.
Supporting lean manufacturing processes, Handling Specialty’s AGVs move the truck chassis along the assembly line and provide the flexibility to adjust production according to volume and schedule demands. Each AGV is equipped with onboard PLC control components which communicate wirelessly to a master control panel. The controls employ standardized architecture using commercially available, off-the-shelf components. The master control panel is equipped with a full-colour, feature-rich HMI which displays real-time production information, AGV positioning, diagnostics and other critical operational data.
Safety is a critical design and operational concern which was addressed in the AGVs supplied to this truck body manufacturer. Each AGV is equipped with an audible warning alarm and a flashing beacon to indicate motion. In addition, the AGV is provided with safety laser scanners which will arrest motion in the event of obstruction as well as contact-style tape sensors and emergency stop buttons.
Industry 4.0 is widely regarded as the next leap in manufacturing, and Handling Specialty’s future AGV solutions will be employing the latest in innovative AGV drive technologies with Industry 4.0 connectivity. These solutions will allow advanced manufacturing companies to access, share and process large amounts of information to help create products more efficiently and support smart factory operations.
Our client set out to build the most efficient, state-of-the-art truck body manufacturing plant in North America and is now seeing a positive economic impact on the area by providing safe and meaningful work for people who share their values.