Warehouse Technology: Automated Guided Vehicle

As technology advances we are seeing automation appear in the workplace in a variety of ways. One way that has been around for over 50 years but is appearing in warehouses more and more is the Automated Guided Vehicle.

What is an Automated Guided Vehicle?

Automated Guided Vehicle

The Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) is a driverless, battery-operated vehicle that is used to move freight in a warehouse environment.

These vehicles are coordinated by computer control systems to run on designated paths and handle pallets, totes, material rolls, coils, cartons, and other types of payloads within the facility.

Companies are increasing their use of AGVs because of the vehicle’s improved product quality and accuracy. This type of automated equipment can replace current conventional conveyor systems and their associated costs.

Does that mean the AGV is cheap? No!

These systems can cost companies upwards of millions of dollars but as technology increases these types of systems can save time, increase accuracy, and decrease errors.

Why Am I Hearing About the Automated Guided Vehicle Now?

This technology has been around for over 50 years (originally called ‘Driverless Systems’) but they have become increasingly more popular in recent years.

The advancements in technology have allowed for updates to AGV software, safety, and battery life, making them a more feasibly investment for the manufacturing industry. They have become more user-friendly, and are now able to adapt and be flexible to different types of facilities. Also, reliable Wi-Fi allows for upgrades to the warehouse management systems.

How Does the AGV Work?

The AGV must be integrated with the facility’s infrastructure. Once connected they perform three basic functions:

  1. Routing: the AGV navigates a path to the proper destination. This could be based on shortest time, shortest distance, or fixed pattern
  2. Traffic Control: this ensures that the AGVs do not interfere with one another
  3. Communications: the AGVs can communicate with one another and communicate with a central device

These functions all help to move freight to its proper destination as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Are There Different Types of AGVs?

Yes! There are 5 basic types of Automated Guided Vehicles:

Tow Type

  • Used for pulling carts, trailers, dollies, etc.
  • 10,000-50,000 lbs towing capacity

Unit Load Type

  • Carry products on built-in load decks
  • Used to transport pallets, totes, etc. (1 or 2 at a time)

Fork Type

  • Utilizes a fork/mast mechanism for interfacing with loads at various elevations Paper_roll_clamp_AGV,_courtesy_of_Egemin_Automation_Inc.
  • Loads are typically floor or stand level

Commercial/Office Type

  • Used to transport small totes/loads in a clean environment
  • Has a capacity of less than 500 lbs

Heavy Carrier Type

  • Transport large or very heavy loads
  • Typically used in metal or paper industries
  • Has a capacity of over 250,000 lbs

This technology is one of the topics of conversation when it comes to automation in the workplace. Automated Guided Vehicles are another way companies can increase the productivity and accuracy in their warehouse with the use of technology.

We will continue to see this type of technology emerge as the warehouse becomes more technologically-based in an effort to combat e-commerce and the fast-paced nature of the logistics industry.