Best Practices for AGV Design and Manufacturer
Custom AGVs are more flexible and easily scalable than ever before. They also involve a smaller capital expense and can be implemented in an existing assembly, manufacturing or MRO plant with little to no structural modifications. AGV technology can reduce costs, increase safety, operate 24/7 and reduce damage to products and people. In this article, we’ll touch on some important aspects when considering automated guided vehicles or to ease the transition from traditional in-ground tow carts to a fully automated AGV system.
To get the most out of your AGV system, look for a design/build company capable of offering a turnkey experience. This is advantageous for the client by having only one company to communicate with, from conceptual design to manufacturing, installation and ongoing support.
Initially, the design should be complementary to the facility layout. Understanding how your upstream (manufacturing) and downstream (transportation) operations work is integral in designing AGVs for your application needs. Experienced technical salespeople will visit your facility to educate themselves and offer consultation on your requirements.
Once the sales team has a firm understanding of your processes, the in-house engineering team consisting of design engineers, manufacturing engineers, and hydraulic and electrical engineers, will begin custom, conceptual AGV drawings and schematics to ensure all required features are present.
Once drawings are approved to meet safety and design efficiency, 3D renderings will be developed, and the Procurement department will purchase the steel and equipment as per the approved drawings.
Building and programming control panels and offering wireless handheld controls to switch the AGV to manual operation should also be considered to avoid downtime and for positioning the AGV for recharging. Another aspect of building your control panels is that Handling Specialty will also include IIoT 4.0 technology in the works, allowing you advanced data capture to monitor AGV analytics for pre-emptive maintenance.
Once the in-house manufacturing is completed, factory acceptance tests will run with the client present and Quality Assistance oversight. At this stage, the client can get up close and personal with the equipment and watch it run through its processes, including weight tests and maneuverability.
Once the factory acceptance test and acceptance test procedures have the Green Light from the client, packaging and in-house logistics calculate freight costs and have the AGVs delivered to your site for installation, commissioning, and operation and maintenance training. All of these important steps should be managed directly by the design/manufacturer of your AGV system.
Another important aspect of AGV design/build is the ability to support aftermarket and planned maintenance operations. Again, your design/build team should have these processes in place to offer ongoing support to the client.
In conclusion, do your homework; not all AGV manufacturers are equal. You want to know they have the people and processes in place to design your AGV system from the bottom up and have multiple AGV case studies to support their claims. When pricing a custom AGV system, know that AGVs cost an assembly, manufacturing or MRO operation substantial capital, and they should work to your specific application requirements.