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AGVs using new technology increase efficiency in automation

AGVs using new technology increase efficiency in automation
Smart technologies have had profound impact on automation. By utilizing the IoT, AI and machine learning, to name a few, robotics and automation have evolved tremendously.
Smart technologies have had profound impact on automation. By utilizing the IoT, AI and machine learning, to name a few, robotics and automation have evolved tremendously. When it comes to AGVs, these technologies are making faster, smarter vehicles. Some place these more intelligent robots in a category of their own: self-driving vehicles (SDV), while other just consider these to be the next generation of AGVs.

“Modern AGVs are built from the same technology and sensors as autonomous vehicles. These AGVs use machine learning and AI to help associates work faster. The more they work, the smarter they get,” Fergal Glynn, VP of Marketing at 6 River Systems, said. “Depending on daily volumes and order profiles, next-generation AGVs can support batch, discrete, zone and cluster picking — simultaneously.”

Next-gen AGVs also have the ability to guide associates through a cart-build process at induction, rather than manually assigning orders to AGVs, Glynn explained. This is done with advanced algorithms that group work together to minimize walking and maximize operator and equipment utilization.

“Certain AGVs lead the associate, displaying important task information — item image, description, quantity, location, etc. — ahead of time. Onboard lights indicate which side of the aisle to pick from and which order container to place the item into. High-powered mounted scanners capture all necessary product information, including lot and serial number, in a single scan — allowing the operator to pick hands-free. As associates complete jobs on one robot, the next robot is already in position and ready to tag in, keeping productivity up, and associates on task,” Glynn added.

Thomas Kaminski, VP of Mobile Automation at Dematic, pointed out that the ability for a system of AGVs to communicate with each other and know the location of the other AGVs, traffic congestion and blocked areas creates an efficient automation solution. “Newer technology including camera- based navigation, combined with navigation software that allows AGVs to dynamically adjust or change a route are creating a new level of AGV functionality and sophistication.”

“In the connected supply chain, the ability of IoT allows for more predictive analysis and maintenance on AGVs and all operations are monitored. System monitoring, where each AGV can be viewed via a dashboard and illustrate bottle- necks in an operation, and work for the AGV can be adjusted to deal with ‘hot’ orders as systems can communicate more effectively,” Kaminski said.

Yonghai Wu, GM of Mobile Robot Division at Hikrobot Technology, explained that the use of AGVs will become more extensive in intelligent logistics and will become an integral part of an intelligent factory. “The logistics system will be fully docking with other intelligent factory systems to form an integrated solution. In order to support group intelligence, Hikvision has created a unified robot management platform for the business system. The main components of the platform include the data service and application platform, the IoT management and monitoring platform, the large database platform, the infrastructure service platform, and the general service platform. The key to the logistics solution is to take the production enterprises from raw materials to warehouse management and distribution, and then to production line, and the whole process management of finished products. These are all based on the intelligent robot system.”

An automated future

The need for automation is clearly growing. “The continuous emergence of AGV-related manufacturers shows that there is indeed demand in the market,” Wu said. Furthermore, operators are expected to adopt more and more automation and robotics solutions in the years to come. Whether it be the competitive advantage AGVs offer or just a need to become more efficient, smart and safe, we can expect an increasingly automated future to take over warehousing and distribution centers.

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