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Possible applications

Possible applications and approaches for project planning of Automated Guided Vehicle systems More and more companies want to automate their in-plant material flow by using Automated Guided Vehicle systems (AGV). Thanks to progress in communication, navigation and safety-engineering, AGVs can be used flexibly and are easy to integrate into existing systems. What applications is an AGV suitable for and what requires attention in project planning? Automation in intralogistics is continually advancing. Users want solutions that are flexible – meaning modular, scalable and interface-ready. It should also be possible to implement solutions in the shortest time possible. AGVs provide an economical automation solution for many transport assignments. Using them offers numerous advantages: reliability, process safety and a high level of efficiency. They can also be used in mixed operation with manual industrial trucks or people. AGVs can also be adapted or expanded without difficulty. As a result, both interest and investment in AGVs have risen sharply in recent years. More and more companies want to tap into the optimization potential of automating their material flow with AGVs. But what applications are right for AGVs? What preconditions should be met for AGV use, what can be transported and is a special IT infrastructure necessary? Applications Author: Alexander Zeilhofer, Director of Technical Sales for Automatic Industrial trucks, Jungheinrich Logistiksysteme GmbH Automation with AGVs is suitable for companies of any size and for nearly all industries. Because an AGV is easy to integrate into existing infrastructures, it can be used flexibly in existing factory environments or in new buildings. To determine their own needs, companies should analyze the process to be automated in detail. INDUSTRIAL TRUCKS

The main application fields of AGVs are continuous transport tasks such as goods receipt or transport from production to warehouse in multi-shift or round the clock operation. AGV providers are currently receiving most of their requests from the manufacturing sector, especially the automotive industry and also companies in the food and packaging industries. The focus here is on supply and disposal for assembly and production systems – especially if the processes are already automated so there is no possibility of gaps in the automation. Needs analysis Before detailed project planning begins, companies should already have recorded some initial operating conditions as part of their needs assessment. This includes: n The environment (temperature, floors, etc.) n Loading aids and the load n Layout with sources and sinks n Transport volumes/transport matrix n Order control As a general rule, standardized and uniform loading aids together with good load distribution and stability of the loads being transported provide favorable conditions for use of AGVs. The warehouse should also be well organized, the temperature range should be between 0 and 40 °C, and the floors should be in good condition (industrial floor). The layout should also already include rough planning of travel routes and all pick-up and delivery stations (number and type) for needs assessment. Other peripheral objects such as fire doors, high-speed doors or elevators should also be included in the layout. The reason for this is that narrow places, one-way routes, doors and elevators affect the possible travel speeds and therefore capacity calculations as well. The width required for travel routes depends on the width of the vehicles, which in turn is determined by the size, shape and weight of the load. The travel routes required to operate manually controlled forklift trucks are generally adequate. To be able to calculate the capacity of the AGV, the first step is to calculate the transport volumes. To do this, the number of transport tasks per hour between the previously recorded pick-up and transfer points is calculated or recorded manually and transferred to a transport matrix. Another aspect to consider is how the AGV will receive transport orders: via WMS or forklift control system, by ERP or PPS, via machine interface or simply manually with a button or a tablet application with system visualization. Thus no WMS or any other extensive IT infrastructure is necessary to use AGVs. Project planning with capacity dimensioning The technical challenge in project planning for an AGV is due to the many different conditions on site in the planned application. Interested companies should therefore document their needs in a specification sheet or requirements specification. Based on this documentation, vehicles and load handling units can then be configured for the individual transport tasks, making it possible to work with individual loads, transfer heights, support heights and existing conveyor technology. Error-free communication between vehicles and an existing IT and software landscape or production machines can also be implemented for a specific project in this manner. The required transport capacity is used to calculate the number of vehicles required. The following factors determine how large the vehicle fleet must be to achieve sufficient availability for the average transport utilization, but also to cover peaks: n Transport volume n Ambient conditions: length of the transport routes and maximum travel speeds for calculating the number of transport tasks per hour and per route n Charging stations: routes, ratio of charging time to transport time n Order management: proportion of empty trips. The result is the number of automated guided vehicles and charging stations required, which in turn is used to determine the size of the fleet. Vehicles with lithium-ion batteries and automatic contacting are capable of using transport breaks for recharging. This makes it possible to use AGVs round the clock without any operator interaction. In two-shift operation, lead batteries are still the solution that offers the best return on investment, provided the vehicle is equipped with energy-efficient drives and the AGV manufacturer guarantees two-shift operation without recharging. The warehousing layout also affects the type of navigation to choose for the AGV. The possibilities include contour navigation, magnetic point navigation and reflector navigation, which is currently used most often. Contour navigation, which uses only the surroundings as orientation for the vehicle, does not require reflectors on walls, columns and racks as typically used for laser navigation. Short amortization times in multi-shift operation Automated guided vehicles offer many advantages: reliability, process safety and efficiency. The planned usage is an important deciding factor. Especially in two and three-shift operation, it may be worthwhile for companies to think in the direction of automation, since amortization of the investment is very attractive in these cases. However, practical applications may also be found in oneshift operation, for example if the AGV enables a clear separation between logistics and production, thereby improving production quality. Nevertheless, the only way to reliably prevent problems with processes later on is by creating professional functional specifications. Jungheinrich is happy to assist in planning, conception and implementation as a competent partner and complete solution provider for AGVs. Photograph: Jungheinrich About Jungheinrich Jungheinrich ranks among the world’s leading companies in the material handling equipment, warehousing and material flow engineering sectors. The company is an intralogistics service and solution provider with manufacturing operations, which offers its customers a comprehensive range of forklift trucks, logistics systems, services and advice. Jungheinrich shares are traded on all German stock exchanges. WORLD OF INDUSTRIES – INTRALOGISTICS & DISTRIBUTION 3/2017

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