THOUGHT LEADERS FOR MANUFACTURING & SUPPLY CHAIN
ARC INSIGHTS
By Steve Banker
Automated material handling systems
reduce l...
ARC Insights, Page 2
©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com
from manufacturing to...
ARC Insights, Page 3
©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com
A free Q-CAN Trial Ve...
ARC Insights, Page 4
©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com
Please help us improv...
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Automated Guided Vehicles Flexible, Yet Automated Material Handling

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Automated Guided Vehicles Flexible, Yet Automated Material Handling
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have long been the most flexible of
automated material handling systems. Now Siemens
Dematic has introduced a user friendly system
design program that eliminates the need for any
service support when the AGV system’s operation
needs to be changed. An already flexible solution
has become even more so.
Automated material handling systems
reduce labor costs, but most lack
flexibility. Now the most flexible of
automated material handling systems,
the AGV, has just become even easier to
redeploy to meet changing needs.

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Automated Guided Vehicles Flexible, Yet Automated Material Handling

  1. 1. THOUGHT LEADERS FOR MANUFACTURING & SUPPLY CHAIN ARC INSIGHTS By Steve Banker Automated material handling systems reduce labor costs, but most lack flexibility. Now the most flexible of automated material handling systems, the AGV, has just become even easier to redeploy to meet changing needs. INSIGHT# 2003-12MD FEBRUARY 26, 2003 Automated Guided Vehicles Flexible, Yet Automated Material Handling Keywords Automated Material Handling Summary Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have long been the most flexible of automated material handling systems. Now Sie- mens Dematic has introduced a user friendly system design program that eliminates the need for any service support when the AGV system’s operation needs to be changed. An already flexible solution has become even more so. Analysis The advantage of automated material handling systems – such as convey- ors or monorails – is that they reduce labor costs. The disadvantage is that they are not flexible. If order profiles change in the warehouse or work processes need to change in the factory, the travel paths may also need to change. In such circumstances many types of automated material handling systems end up getting retired. This is not the case with non-wire guided AGVs. Non-wire AGVs generally navigate either using an internal gyro- scope or a mounted laser scanner. Reflective targets are mounted on columns for the vehicle laser to use to determine location, or in-floor mag- nets are used for the vehicle gyroscope as reference targets. If needs change, the paths can changed by moving targets, or magnets, and then making the necessary changes in the software code. Common applications include direct service to and from manufacturing operations, bulk move- ment into and out of warehouses, and bulk movement of products over long distances. Application Case Studies The one million square foot Federal Mogul factory and warehouse in Skokie, Illinois manufactures gaskets for the automotive industry. At this facility two AGVs from Siemens Dematic are used to haul scrap material
  2. 2. ARC Insights, Page 2 ©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com from manufacturing to the dock. The scrap is hauled in a train of six cars that can carry up to 2000 pounds. At the dock more valuable metals are sorted out and recycled. The Skokie facility is replacing previous AGVs that had been in operation for 13 years. Because of their previous experi- ence with AGVs, they are confident that their payback will occur within one and a half years. John Deere is a manufacturer of agricultural equipment for both industrial and home usages. Their plant in Milan, Illi- nois recently replaced a 15 year old system with a solution from Siemens Dematic. They purchased 8 units that will each pull four trailers. Each unit will move along a path with 23 stop destinations. Each AGV train is generally sent to 3 operator selected stations per trip. If no destination is typed in follow- ing unloading, the AGV automatically returns to the receiving dock. Software Programming Most solutions that replace human beings need to be programmed with “intelligence.” While what an AGV does sounds quite simple, the pro- gramming can be surprisingly complex. AGV solutions must be designed to: • Have routes with optimal material flow characteristics • Allow AGVs to move on multiple paths yet have the ability to select the best path • Allow AGVs that move on paths with intersections to avoid collisions yet move through intersections in a way that best meets the needs of the facility In comparison to other automated material handling systems, AGVs are flexible. However, redesigning or expanding flow paths has traditionally involved going back to the supplier for additional services. The more ex- tensive the changes to the existing flow design, the more costly the services. Historically the programming was done by the suppliers using in-house proprietary simulation and design programs and this was a major source of the additional costs. AGV Types Description Towing Can tow several carts that are loaded and unloaded at specified stops Fork Vehicles Can service multiple elevations including floor pick and drop Unit Loads Quite popular in applications integrating conveyors with manufacturing operations or storage retrieval systems There Are 3 Main Types of AGVs
  3. 3. ARC Insights, Page 3 ©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com A free Q-CAN Trial Version CD can be found by registering at the www.agvsystems.com site. This site also contains extensive information on AGVs. Siemens Dematic Q-CAN System Siemens-Dematic has introduced a user friendly, graphical AGV system design program called Q-CAN™. Q-CAN runs on a standard PC and stands for Quick Configurable AutomatioN. Because us- ers only need to create the model, and the model automatically generates the software code, people with no training in programming are able to use this software pro- gram following a two day class. Users that have used simulation games or applications may not need a class at all. In a visit to Siemens Dematic’s Grand Rapids Michigan facility, this analyst got to see users create a path layout and configure a fully function- ing AGV system. At the end of the training, the users got to download their programs into an AGV and see with their own eyes the results. There are benefits to Q-CAN in addition to speeding the programming process and thus reducing costs. It can speed the initial deployment by al- lowing critical personnel to visualize the layout. This helps to eliminate unnecessary iterations. The ability to model also makes it easier for users to proactively consider changes on an ongoing basis that may improve logistics processes. It should also be noted that advantages accrue to us- ers whether or not they decide to get trained on this system. After all, the system is also easier for the sup- plier’s personnel to use and the ability to show models to customers still eliminates costly iterative proc- esses. For this reason, Siemens Dematic is developing Q-CAN solu- tions for other material handling and production assembly systems. Recommendations • Regular preventative maintenance is the best way to extend the life of AGVs. • Don’t assume that a more complex AGV layout is the better design. Complex layouts can adversely affect maintenance costs and reliability.
  4. 4. ARC Insights, Page 4 ©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com Please help us improve our deliverables to you – take our survey linked to this transmittal e-mail or at www.arcweb.com/myarc in the Client Area. For further information, contact your account manager or the author at sbanker@arcweb.com. Recommended circulation: All MAS-D clients. ARC Insights are published and copyrighted by ARC Advisory Group. The information is proprietary to ARC and no part of it may be reproduced without prior permission from ARC.

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