Automated Guided Vehicle: Transforming Movement in Warehouse Operations

With growing concern for workplace injuries, caused as a result of accidents from forklifts, warehouse operators are looking forward to a major shift to adopt autonomous guided vehicles.

Warehouse management is prone to a bunch of mistakes and challenges. These challenges may include inaccurate inventory information, inefficient space utilization, improper labor management, following rudimentary processes, adapting to seasonal demand, substandard picking process, flawed order management, managing heaps of data, and poor-quality control among others. Our research analysts at Research Nester has found that one forklift accident in a warehouse can cost the business close to USD 38 Thousand. However, these expenditures can also cross more than USD 150 Thousand depending on the situation. On the other hand, around 21,000 workplace injuries were recorded as a result of forklift accidents in the year 2022 and around one fourth of these accidents were as a result of overturned forklift. More or less, every year, an average of 100 forklift fatal accidents are recorded and approximately 40% of these occur when the forklift operator is crushed by a falling vehicle.

What are Automated Guided Vehicles

(AGVs)? What is its Importance?

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are load carriers or material handling equipment that move around on their own without the need for an operator or driver. They are most typically used in industrial settings to carry large goods throughout a massive industrial building, such as a factory or warehouse. Computer software is used by automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to detect their positioning, movement, and location. The major importance of automated guided vehicles is that these systems assist in minimizing errors and removing human error from a list of concerns of business organizations. These vehicles can execute things that would be dangerous for humans to do and therefore it reduces the direct and indirect costs that a business may incur as a result of the workplace accident. Moreover, these vehicles run smoothly and safely, reducing the possibility of other workers being hurt by human-operated vehicles. An increased workplace safety can also lower expenditures such as insurance premiums. Besides this, as the name suggests, these vehicles function automatically by using automated inventory management systems. As a result, man-made simple counting errors that can skew data and cause problems, can quickly be averted. The market size for autonomous guided vehicles was recorded to be worth USD 4 billion in 2022 and it is anticipated to increase at a CAGR of about 14% from 2023 to 2035, touching around USD 15 billion in revenue in the year 2035.

Components of Automated Guided Vehicles
  • Batteries: AGVs can be powered by three different types of batteries: lead, lithium ion, and gelled electrolyte lead acid (GEL) or absorbed glass mat (AGM). The most popular batteries are lithium ion or Li-ion batteries because of their durability and dependability.
  • Job Control Software: A central command system, sometimes known as the system's brain, allows AGVs to communicate with one another and carry out their tasks.
  • Sensors: Common AGVs use sensors to connect with remote sensory objects such as LiDAR (light detection and ranging) or SLAM, magnetic tape, QR codes, barcodes, RFID, lasers, inductive wire, spot magnets, and (simultaneous location and mapping).
  • Traffic Management System: A traffic operating system controller is essential in a facility that uses many AGVs. They have a CRT monitor, locator panels, and a central logging and report center. With the use of this technology, AGVs can be observed operating, collisions can be avoided, traffic may flow freely, and the effectiveness of the system can be evaluated.
  • Guidance System Software: AGV navigation systems come in two types: fixed path and free range. Fixed path systems are guided outside the vehicle by wire, tape on the floor, sensors on the walls, or another type of guidance. They have a clearly demarcated path so that no cars or pedestrians can get in the way of their work. Free range systems have a pre-programmed path that they can follow without the aid of outside equipment, in contrast to fixed path vehicles.
Benefits of Automated Guided Vehicles

AGVs are a boon to industries as it has the following benefits:

  • In a setting where various operations are carried out at various times, line balance can be aided by AGVs.
  • Owing to high dependability on these vehicles and their prompt delivery nature, AGVs can increase operational efficiency and scheduling capacities.
  • AGVs always stay on their intended path and stop if they come across a barrier, enhancing the safety of personnel in the immediate area.
  • With an AGV system, charging and battery handling may be automated, and the controlled acceleration and deceleration reduces component wear.

In Which Industries are

Automated Guided Vehicles used?

  • Automotive: Through digital interfaces, AGV systems can be directly linked to production planning procedures so that they are always aware of the requirements for which components to be available in which production areas.
  • Chemicals: The AGVs are used for the transportation of chemical vats and their derivatives during the mixing process, as well as specially made cages and containers carrying plastic bottles during the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
  • Commercial printing: In printing industry AGVs are used to move large paper reels, handle them, and then store them.
  • Food & Beverage: AGV is used in food and beverage industry to transfer baking pans between the production lines and the ovens, and to integrate specific applications into high bay warehouses with shuttle shelving.
  • Hospital: Pallets of medical equipment are frequently moved by using AGV from deep-stacking radio shuttle warehouses to high-temperature sterilizing units. Furthermore, AGVs are used in hospitals to transport meals, waste bins, linen, sterile supplies, and others.

What are the Types of

Automated Guided Vehicles?

  • Towing AGV: Towing AGVs, sometimes referred to as tugs or warehouse tuggers, lessen the risks involved with employing large, heavy equipment. They can move weights weighing between 10,000 and 50,000 pounds. With a revenue share of more than 40%, the tow vehicle sector led the market in 2021.
  • Fork AGV: Mechanized forklifts called fork AGVs provide the automated equipment, transport the finished goods to storage, or pack them for transportation. They can move and stack pallet, similar to stacker trucks, and also transfer and retrieve merchandise. Forklift AGVs can prove to be economical and cost-saving. Depending on their programming, heavy-duty forklift AGVs can transport big paper rolls, steel coils, engines, and cars over any distance.
  • Heavy Load AGV: These are the machines with broad platforms, sturdy wheels, and huge bases. AGVs with a capacity of up to 250,000 pounds are required by some industries, including aviation, the production of heavy construction vehicles, and shipbuilding.
  • Automated Guided Carts: The most basic type of AGV, with the fewest features, is an automatic guided cart (AGC). They are frequently used in sorting, storage, and cross-docking applications and can move a variety of materials, including small parts and loaded pallets.
  • Autonomous Mobile Robots: The technology of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for logistics and warehousing is often more sophisticated than those of other AGV kinds. AMRs are capable of planning the most effective routes while dynamically navigating a warehouse or other facility.

How do Automated Guided Vehicles Work?

The functioning idea of an automated guided vehicle is designed to support extremely high loads, like those carried by assembly lines for truck outfitting.

  • AGV Navigation Control: Instead of using the fixed tracks that are typically constructed into a facility's floor to guide the vehicles, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) are built to follow magnetic tape or QR coded tape using a laser guidance system. Contrary to tracks embedded in the floor, the tape enables quick and inexpensive floor operation reconfiguration.
  • AGV Steering Control: For remarkable agility inside any manufacturing space, AGV systems with multiple drive motors offer specialized steering with zero-radius turning, diagonal, left, right, backward, and forward movement. A manual option is available for removing AGVs from the production line so they can be repaired or recharged. They usually use motion stop sensors and kick brakes for increased security.
  • AGV Traffic Control: AGV systems are built with numerous safety features that provide excellent facility traffic control through collision-avoidance capabilities using audio and visual alarms, motion sensors, E-Stops, and laser guiding.

What’s New in Automated Guided Vehicles?

  • Modern technologies, such as the laser navigation technology, that utilizes lidar sensors, allow the automated guided vehicles to perceive their surroundings and navigate accordingly. Lidar technology possesses greater level of accuracy and hence increases the dependability of AGVs.
  • An increasingly new and common application for automated guided vehicles is automatically loading trailers. Pallets can be delivered into the trailer using the predetermined loading pattern by AGVs after being picked up from conveyors, racks, or staging lanes. Some automatic trailer-loading AGVs view the walls of the trailer with vision systems and analytics software in order to navigate and load trailers in a coordinated manner based on delivery routes.

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Swara Keni

Head- Global Business Development

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