All of us are now well acquainted with basics of material handling. We also know that, although manual labor is still prevalent, companies have started turning towards autonomous technics for their obvious advantages. Our previous article “Autonomous Material Handling” was all about the different types of autonomous systems and their implementations in manufacturing industries. We also discussed quite in length, the pros of such advanced systems over the manual ones and their numerous benefits to the companies adopting them. While talking about the autonomous systems, we also touch based upon mobile robots or we call them – AGVs. Let us continue this discussion about Automated Guided Vehicles in details, which will also give you a little sneak peak about what we do at Yantra.
AGVs are portable robots, which follow a prefixed path for navigation. They can tow the material stored in trailers or trolleys attached behind them or can store the material on the overhead beds for conveyance. They are used to transport loads in a manufacturing facility or a warehouse, where repetitive movement of material is required with little or no human interaction. Now a days, they are deployed in nearly every industry and their scope ranges from handling raw materials to finished products.
Did you know, that the first AGV was brought to market in 1950s in Illinois, USA? This AGV simply followed a wire in the floor for navigation. Since then, there have been tremendous improvements in the technology to devise better sensing mechanisms for path finding. Let us see the most important and prevalent ones in the industry.
- Induction Wire Sense: This is one of the oldest technology for path tracking wherein, the AGV is guided by a current carrying conductor (wire) installed in the ground. This technique is now becoming a little obsolete because of the difficulty in installing the wires under the shop floor.
- Laser Target Sense: Here, navigation is done by mounting reflective tape on walls, machines and other fixed objects on the shop floor. The AGV is guided by the reflected light transmitted and received by the laser sensors mounted on the AGV.
- Magnetic Tape Sense: In this case, the AGV is guided by a magnetic tape to move from one location to another. The magnetic tape is either implanted or directly laid on the floor, which makes it easy for installation.
- Color Sense: In color sensing technique, different colored strips are embedded on the floor. The path to be followed by the robot is decided based on the color detected by the sensor mounted on it. We at Yantra, use our own unique color sense path guidance technology.
- Metal Sense: Yantra has also invented an in-house metal sensing technology (M-Sense) for path guidance, which is way better than the traditional sensing systems discussed above. What is this M-Sense technology, you ask? Stay tuned for our next article and you will find all your answers.
We know that AGVs are gaining popularity day after day for all the material handling needs in any industry. Let us try to understand their benefits over all the other material handling techniques we have seen so far.
- AGVs are definitely better than manual handling, imagine a single robot moving 1000 KG of load versus a laborer manually doing the same task. They not only save human efforts, but also a significant amount of time.
- AGVs are much easier to install as compared to conveyor belts. They do not require any machinery and maintenance apart from the initial guidance path installation. They do not block huge spaces permanently like conveyor belts. When not in use, they can easily be stored away in some concise place and the complete shop floor can be utilized for movement.
- It takes months of training for a person to become an expert forklift Since there is no human interference, the AGVs can be operated effortlessly from the day of installation.
Apart from these, the biggest advantage of the AGVs is their safety, which is of utmost importance in any industry. Some of the robots come with advance safety features and sensors, which make sure that there is no damage to the products, machinery and workers, promoting a healthier work environment.
The only issue with the AGVs is their high capital cost because of which companies hesitate to opt for them. Our engineers at Yantra are constantly striving to reduce the costs and make affordable yet robust AGVs, which can be used in every industry and any environment. RAGHAV is one such ultimate robot, which meets all your material handling requirements. Want to know more about RAGHAV? Keep scanning the Knowledge Corner for our next article.