Automated Guided Vehicle | Application and advantages
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV), popularly known as battery-powered driverless vehicles. AGVs are becoming an integral part of automated manufacturing systems. They are with programming capabilities for destination, path location, and positioning. The AGVS belong to a class of highly flexible, intel1igent versatile materialhandling systems used for materials loading and unloading throughout the facility.
Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) is the advanced material handling applications. AGV play an important part in automating the manufacturing unit because they not only connect all faces of the factory by the horizontal movement of materials, but allow management to control and direct manufacturing processes.
The AGV can be defined as a vehicle equipped with automatic guidance equipment, either electromagnetic or optical. Such a vehicle is capable of following prescribed guidepaths and may be equipped for vehicle programming and stop selection, blocking, and any other special functions required by the system.
One of the interesting feature of AGVs is the collision avoidance capability. That is, the vehicle comes to a dead stop before any damage is done to personnel, materials, or structures.
The Components of AGV
There are four main components of an automated guided vehicle system:
1. The vehicle: It is used to move the material within the system without a human operator.
2. The guide path: It guides the vehicle to move along the path.
3. The control unit: It monitors and directs system operations including feedback on moves, inventory, and vehicle status.
4. The computer interface: It interfaces with other computers and systems such as the mainframe host computer, the automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), and the flexible manufacturing system (FMS)
AGV’s Control Systems
There are three types of AGVS control systems. They are 1-1
• Computer-controlled system:
In this system, all the transactions and AGVS vehicle movements are controlled and monitored by the system controller. The guide path controller controls the guide path of the AGVS and transfers the information to the AGVS process controller. The AGVS process controller directs the movement of the AGVS vehicles.
• Remote dispatch control system:
In this system a human operator is required to issue instructions to the vehicle through a remote control station. The control system sends destination instructions directly to the vehicle. Therefore, the human operator does not have any direct control over the AGVS vehicle.
• Manual control system:
In the manually controlled system, the operator gives commands to AGVS. The operator gives instructions like loading the vehicle, entering a destination and unloading. A manually controlled system is simple and the least expensive of all control systems. The efficiency of the system depends on the skill and performance of the operator.
Applications of AGVS
AGVS have numerous applications and have already been applied by many manufacturing plants and companies. New applications are being
developed as technology improves and as experience is gained.
Some of the most common applications of the AGVS are:
- Raw material storage
- Finished goods storage
- Assembly operations
- Flexible manufacturing systems
- Manufacturing operations
Technical and Economic Benefits of AGVs
AGV systems are proving to be the most economical method of moving material.
Interface with Other Systems:
AGV systems are designed to interface with other material-handling systems including conveyors, automatic storage/retrieval systems, production lines, and other devices.
Computer control means planned delivery, transaction audit records, on-line interface to production and inventory control systems and management information on the vehicle and workstation production.
Reduced Labor/increased Productivity:
In cases where driverless vehicles are used, substantial savings are realized due to labor reduction.
Guide path Easily Expanded:
As material movement needs change or plant size increases, AGV systems can be expanded or modified quickly and at low cost.
Expandable System Capacity:
As material movement needs an increase, load movement capacity in the AGV system is easily accomplished by adding one or more vehicles.
Control wires for AGV systems are installed in the floor and therefore, leave no ‘above-floor obstructions’.
AGV systems can be designed with an unlimited number of pick-up and delivery points.
Less Equipment Damage:
There is less product and equipment damage when AGV systems are used to move material because the vehicles travel on a predetermined route.
Reliable System Control:
All automatic guided vehicles are equipped to allow manual override for the special material or vehicle movement situations.
AGV systems require very little energy to operate.
Ease of Installation:
AGV systems can be installed in less time than most other material handling systems.
Installation in Existing Buildings:
AGV systems can be installed in existing buildings with minimum interference to ongoing operations.
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