Starting an AGV or AMR automation project from scratch means diving into a whole lot of various tasks and decisions and trying to foresee factors that can influence the project’s success. Based on our our 25 years of experience in automation, AGV navigation, and fleet management for hundreds of customers worldwide, we created a roadmap that will guide you through essential points to achieve efficient automation of your AGVs, automated forklifts, or mobile robots.
Planning is crucial for a successful AGV automation project, so start by evaluating your needs, goals, and requirements of the project. Creating a URS (user requirement specification) might be a good idea, as it helps to structure the information and set clear objectives and expectations.
Try considering all the relevant details, such as desired throughput, environment, size of warehouse or other location types, estimated AGV routes, potential disturbances, schedule of vehicles, etc. Create a list of required AGV features for your project depending on the tasks to be performed and location specifics. For example, racking and block-stacking features for warehousing automation, obstacle avoidance for a dynamic environment, or omnidirectional driving for narrow spaces. Pointing out these details during the planning stage will help avoid costly mistakes. Seeing the big picture will also help to choose the optimal navigation and vehicle type for your project.
A good simulation can save you a fortune and an even more important asset – time. Trying out the system in a simulation will help you to anticipate the weak spots, production bottlenecks, and possible mistakes in the system architecture that you can fix before the launch. The simulation defines optimal routes of the AGVs in the given space requirements for the most effective automation concept.
Navitec provides simulation as a part of our engineering services, and it’s possible to see the full mobile robots fleet functionality beforehand.
3. CHOICE OF A SUITABLE VEHICLE
AGVs and AMRs come in different types, sizes, wheel configurations, load capacities, etc. You can maximize the effectiveness by utilizing various vehicle types in one fleet (Tip: ask your automation service provider about this feature in advance. Mixing different AGVs is easy and convenient with Navitec software).
Working together with the automation system provider is beneficial, as your automation company can share its experience and advise the best solution. For example, our engineers can work together with our customers to design the automation system that will be the most suitable for your application. Navitec can also train your engineering team how to use the simulation software tool by themselves for planning. Additionally, any AGV can be customized to your specific needs, as shown in this customer AGV video.
Currently searching for an AGV to reach highest effectiveness in your application? Check out this useful post with the instructions
4. AUTOMATION CONCEPT
The success of an AGV or AMR system depends on a deep understanding of the automation concept – your targets for the new workflow and processes.
Things to consider:
What is the location where an automated vehicle or the fleet will be operating? Is it a factory or a warehouse; how many aisles are there, and how wide are they? A location layout can help define the type and shape of an AGV and its appropriate dimensions. Other important factors are the type of load, its weight, estimated dimensions as well as throughput requirements.
The choice of AGV navigation type will determine what scanners and sensors should be utilized, and the need for changing your facilities. For example, additional infrastructure is needed if you plan to automate with magnetic tape or induction wire. On the contrary, natural feature navigation or SLAM (simultaneous location and mapping) navigation typically requires no extra equipment.
5. COMMUNICATION WITH FACTORY AND PERSONNEL
Don’t forget the human factor. Even a perfect automation system will need an operator, and there could be other employees interacting with the system. Educating and motivating people to learn the new processes is crucial for your automation success. First, assess the level of familiarity with AGVs – do the employees need to start from basic training, or have they been dealing with automation solutions before? Educating workers and making them feel comfortable with AGVs will contribute to the effectiveness of the whole system (e.g., a smooth shift to automated solutions and no unplanned interruptions in AMR fleet performance).
It’s also important to emphasize the safety aspects of the AGVs and AMRs, as they might not be perceived as safe at first. Communicating the advantages of AGV systems for your factory operations to the employees will ensure better incorporation of automated solutions. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We are always glad to discuss your needs and help to design the most efficient automation system for you.
Are you just starting with the automation? Check how ready you are for AGV & AMR automation system with this roadmap