Automation has taken over different industries to enhance their production, operations, and management. With the possibility of reduced errors and greater efficiency, technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and machine learning are increasingly compelling business owners to move toward automation.
Automated guided vehicle (AGV) is one such technology that is at the forefront of automation in big industries such as e-commerce and automotive. The major application of AGVs in the warehouse has significantly impacted the growth of these industries.
The concept of AGV evolved from the idea of merging the capabilities of humans and robots to ensure a high amount of productivity and quality in the task. This technology has become an integral part of the entire industrial robotic ecosystem.
AGVs are mobile and flexible, and they can be deployed for material handling tasks. They consist of different components, such as navigation assistance.
Currently, AGV is applied to five types of vehicles, including tow trucks, load transfer trucks, forklifts, pallet trucks, and assembly line vehicles. These vehicles are based on different navigation technologies such as laser guidance, vision guidance, natural features, etc.
The applications of AGVs in the warehouse across industries vary differently. It is based on their usage and handling of different materials that are either in process or final goods. The important applications of AGVs are transportation, distribution, end-of-line transport, and other application.
Among all, transport and end-of-line transport are the two major applications that are projected to lead the growth of the global automated guided vehicles market over the forecast period 2020-2025, according to the latest study by BIS Research.
These two applications are common in major industries such as automotive, consumer electronics, aerospace, and food and beverage industry. The job entails moving goods and articles across the factory workspace and picking and feeding the assembly line wherever needed.
According to BIS Research, the market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 13.32% during the forecast period 2020-2025. The Europe region is also expected to grow at a significant growth rate of 14.97% during the forecast period 2020-2025.
The biggest car companies in the world are rapidly adopting AGVs in warehouses. This article further discusses the recent developments in the automotive industry regarding this technology.
BMW Installs Automated Guided Vehicles at Press Plants
One of the biggest car companies in the world, BMW, has completely optimized and automated its manufacturing and warehouse units through collaboration with the U.K.’s leading robotics transportation company, ek robotics. The AGV equipment exchanged in this partnership includes the custom move, vario move, and very narrow aisle (VNA) AGVs.
Chris Price, managing director of ek robotics U.K., has stated, “We are extremely pleased to finally announce this partnership, especially with a respected industry-leading client such as BMW. A lot of amazing hard work has gone into this behind the scenes, and that is a testament to everyone involved in the project here at ek robotics.”
The products delivered by ek robotics aim to fully automate the new press plant at Swindon. From delivery of blank steel material to body panels sent to production, all the operations will be handled by ek robotics’ solutions. The company has also designed AGVs to deliver tools to and from the new press.
This partnership is considered one of the largest AGV product delivery by ek robotics in the specification of a massive custom move. According to Chris Price, the AGVs were assembled and functioning completely autonomously within five days of delivery.
“Order and delivery were also completed within a year, which, again, is full credit to the brilliant work of our team. We also thank BMW for putting their trust in us for this huge project, and we look forward to a long, healthy, and prosperous relationship,” said Chris Price.
Application of AGV Robots for Automated Valet Parking System by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group
On June 13, 2022, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) group launched a demonstration testing program for an automated valet parking system at a large-scale commercial facility near Tokyo. The system uses AGV robots, named Stan, manufactured by a French company, Stanley Robots. The collaboration marks the first application of AGVs in a commercial complex in Japan.
The demonstration will be conducted till July 1, 2022, with cooperation from Mitsubishi Estate Group. It will take place in the designated parking area at Shisui Premium, an outlet mall located in Chiba. During this demonstration period, vehicles will be transported autonomously by AGV robots in an environment close to the actual application to verify handling performance and evaluate user satisfaction.
With this testing, MHI Group is aiming for a nationwide application of automated valet parking systems and automated systems for transporting finished vehicles. This project has been under process since October 2021 in collaboration with Stanley Robotics. This company is a world leader in the manufacturing and application of automated valet parking systems using AGV technology.
Now, the purpose of this testing is to collect the data through demonstration at a real commercial complex and further accelerate the initiative towards achieving the technology’s commercial viability in Japan.
Globally, most businesses suffer due to the lack of productivity and quality of the products, thereby hampering the overall growth of the business. The growth in labor wages and lack of skilled human resources are further aggravating the challenges.
Hence, AGV technology is well established and effective solution that provides low-cost automated services to businesses and allows the industries to use available human resources optimally.
The rapid adaption of the AGVs in the warehouse across the industries is proof of the effectiveness of the technology.