What is an AGV?
In intralogistics, the transport of goods to the destination is the area where small flexible self-driving transport vehicles enable automation. These means of transport are referred to as Automated Guided Vehicles, AGVs for short. For example, they can take full or empty containers to a destination in production on fixed routes. The navigation is usually track-guided in combination with sensor-based environment recognition.
What is an AMR?
The next evolutionary stage of AGVs are Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR). Generally, AMRs are based on the same mobile platform as their predecessors. However, due to increasing computing power, improved communication channels (5G and Wi-Fi 6) and new peripheral technologies, it is now possible to decentralize the overall intelligence of the fleet and to equip the AGVs with a larger range of functions. This allows them to take on a broader range of activities. For example, AMR are not limited to a set route and can independently avoid obstacles. They can also be enabled to execute value-adding operations during in the transport process through certain attachments.
Why do companies need self-driving carriers?
A shortage of skilled workers, shorter life cycles, a higher product mix and an increasing degree of personalization are currently presenting manufacturing companies with ever greater challenges. The skill is no longer just to produce a product in large quantities at low costs in a short time, but also to adapt to market fluctuations and new developments as quickly as possible. In order for companies to be successful with these challenges, they need a highly automated and at the same time flexible production.
New technologies are already enabling many companies to outsource manual activities, some of which do not generate added-value, and to use human skills in a targeted manner where they are advantageous and automation is still too complex and expensive. AGVs have established themselves for this role in the field of intralogistics in recent years.
AGV and AMR vehicles make production more flexible by separating the classic rigidly linked conveyor technology and fill the personnel gap in industrial carriers in times of a shortage of skilled workers. Equipped with safety sensors, the vehicles maneuver mostly guided by magnetic tapes or color lines along defined routes through the production hall and thus enable material supply between work areas, storage facilities and assembly stations. The control usually takes place in the form of a central control system, which communicates the release signals and driving routes to the individual vehicles.
What are the advantages and disadvantages between AGV and AMR in practice?
The advantages of AMR are manifold. Depending on the design, they can implement even more flexible material flow systems, relieve logistics personnel and significantly increase the performance and quality of intralogistics. In addition, they are technically more robust than AGVs when it comes to changed plan conditions and can also carry out value-added activities in addition to pure transport tasks. Furthermore, the AMRs can also be integrated more easily and quickly in the brownfield, i.e. existing production environments, since, in comparison to AGVs, conveying routes are not rigidly defined and thus changing boundary conditions and available areas can be used more flexibly.
Challenges in the implementation of self-driving means of transport are, for example, the development of know-how for the necessary safety considerations and the required system and IT infrastructure. Just like the high investment costs incurred for implementation. Due to the more complex technology, AMR incurs higher costs in comparison. Therefore, a precise analysis in advance makes sense, especially in small and medium-sized companies.
To what extent can AGVs or AMRs be integrated into a production environment so that they can exploit their advantages?
Practical example: How is this technology used in specific customer projects?
In a current project, we are realizing the integration of AGVs in a line assembly with our customers. Based on our experience and market research, we were able to develop a concept together with the technology supplier and the operator/production plant in which the individual test and work stations are linked by AGVs guided by track lines. This measure enables our customer to implement a modular assembly line that enables significantly more flexible production compared to a permanently linked conveyor system. In a dynamic market environment, the customer can also integrate other products into the existing assembly line. In addition to flexibility, the concept can also ensure ergonomic working heights and the product is accessible from all sides during the assembly process. Due to an investment consideration and the desire for a solution that was as simple and robust as possible, the decision was made in favor of AGVs and against AMRs in the project.
Our support for you: The right technology for your application.
In addition to holistic factory and process planning, our experience as the Munich Consulting Group also includes supplier pre-selection and the definition of technical requirements.
With the following expertises we also find solutions together with you and simplify your decision-making process:
- Recording of the ACTUAL situation and definition of the TARGET state for your production line
- Definition of relevant KPIs
- Definition of requirements for your flexible intralogistics
- Feasibility analysis and cost estimation in cooperation with technology suppliers
- Recommendation of the optimal solution taking into account your specific constraints and requirements
- Coordination during implementation and operation
We have many years of experience and expertise from more than 250 acquired and completed projects. We think factory and process planning holistically, because our claim is digital factory planning beyond the standard. We would like to convince you how AGVs and AMRs can improve your production. For more information contact Thomas Horn (Manager Industrial Engineering).