On this page, we wish to introduce you to a number of vehicles from various AGVS manufacturers in order to give you an idea of the many different tasks that can automated with such systems. They range from fairly simple installations to extremely complex systems and require automated guided vehicles of different size, design and load capacity. Within the industry, we distinguish between large, medium-sized and small vehicles.
Large vehicles (Picture 1)
Egemin GmbH offers AGVs that are customised to suit the actual working environment as well as the goods to be transported. When it comes to the dimensions of the vehicles, there are virtually no limits. The Miller Brewing Company used for example rather small vehicles, some of them measuring only 1.6 x 2.5 metres. The Egemin transport systems for automated warehouses are of a different size altogether. At Dubois Ltd., the automated guided vehicles can reach up to 10.13 metres in order to place and retrieve goods from the top shelf of its storage system. At Sonaca, the aerospace construction company, automated guided vehicles are used to carry components that measure up to seven metres in width. Thanks to its advanced control technology, the system allows for safe navigation without need for turns.
Automatic coil transporter (A.C.T) at SIEMAG (Pictures 2/3)
SIEMAG in Netphen, Germany, has developed an automatic coil transport vehicle that offers a number of significant advantages. Coils are transported without any damage to the material, the internal transport capacities can be planned and scheduled in advance, and the system works without any emissions. As the vehicle control solution is integrated into the overall logistics system of the company, continuous supply of material when and where it is needed is guaranteed. The A.C.T.s are specially designed for transport tasks with a large number of source-destination combinations. In contrast to conventional reel trucks, the A.C.T.s use less energy and help reduce labour costs. There is less damage to coils, which again improves the efficiency of production and quality of the end product.
The A.C.T. shown here has recently bee commissioned at the company's factory in Netphen. It is designed for coils with an outer diameter of 2,450 mm and a maximum width of 1,650 mm. The vehicle can carry loads of up to 35 tons. It is very compact and easy to manoeuvre, has a floor loading of less than 10 t/m2 and is extremely suited for operation in a harsh rolling mill environment. The prototype shown here forms the template for a complete vehicle series based on modules.
The A.C.T. works similar to a conventional driver-operated reel truck. The load handling device is mounted at the front of the vehicle, while the control unit including drive system and batteries are installed in the rear section. The load is taken up and held by a mandrel instead of a reel fork. The mandrel is attached to a hydraulic lifting device. As soon as the loaded A.C.T. has reached its destination, two supports mounted at the rear of the vehicle are lowered to the ground. The entire load handling unit is then moved forward and lowers the coil in front of the vehicle onto floor area the transfer station.
As soon as the mandrel is relieved, the supports are retracted, the vehicle moves away from the transfer position and the load handling device returns to its home position. Where the coil is not placed on the floor but on a coil carrier, the load handling device does not need to be extended horizontally, as the front part of the vehicle moves to a position below the carrier so that the coil can simply be lowered onto it. This is made possible by the precision guidance system installed in the rear part of the A.C.T.
The vehicle weighs only 24 tons and has an overall width of 2,850 mm. It features three oscillating axles equipped with a dual wheel set each. This results in an overall load of 59 tons (tare and payload) distributed onto twelve wheels with Vulkollan tyres. The drive unit consists of two three-phase servo motors propelling the front wheels. The A.C.T. is steered through two axles, whereby each steered wheel set is equipped with two steering drives. The vehicle is able to cross obstacles (e.g. rails) without tipping or stalling and can safely master inclines of up to 2 per cent.
Its navigation system is based on laser-assisted dead reckoning. For the control system, the manufacturer co-operated with Frog Navigation Systems, a specialist technology provider.
Automated commercial vehicle of UZIN, Ulm (Picture 4)
FOX GmbH converted to Mercedes-Benz Actros into automated vehicles. This pilot project was implemented for UZIN in Ulm, Germany. The vehicles are guided with an accuracy of 2 cm along transponders installed underground. Their average speed is 5 km/h. The lorries are thereby run forward and back along the track, transporting Euro pallets that are loaded and unloaded by means of an automated system. The entire transport solution is controlled and visualised through a PC-based control system. Each vehicle communicates by radio signal with the central control station. This innovative solution by FOX GmbH has already won two awards.
Automated wheel loader of Kompotec, Nieheim
At its innovative composting plant, Kompotec Kompostierungsanlagen GmbH in Nieheim, Germany, operates an automated wheel loader that performs all repeat, monotonous loading tasks in the company's post-composting shed.
The radio communication, control and navigation equipment was supplied by Götting KG, acting as a subcontractor of FOX GmbH. FOX GmbH was chosen as a partner for this project, as the company already proved its expertise in the automation of standard commercial vehicles. Götting KG is a well-established supplier of navigation and communication equipment for the AGV industry.
Innovative solution for unusual task
At the composting works of Kompotec, organic waste is first treated in a fully enclosed tunnel composter (supplied by Horstmann Anlagentechnik GmbH) and then transferred to the post-composting shed. Here, the freshly produced compost is once more turned over, aerated, sieved and prepared for sale. Organic waste is thus turned into a quality-approved product for use in farming and horticulture.
By automating this process, the company wanted to relieve its wheel loader drivers from the monotonous tasks in the post-composting shed. Automation also greatly increases the productivity of the wheel loader, as it can now be operated around the clock. During the day, the wheel loader is still used as a conventional machine for the loading of the compost onto lorries.
Horstmann remains closely involved in this project. The company is particularly interested in solutions for the mechanical treatment of organic waste material, where occupational health and safety issues are a major concern, given the prevailing dust emissions and odour.
The vehicle chosen for the project is an articulated wheel loader from Liebherr (model L 544) with hydrostatic drive. This machine was converted into an automated guided vehicle suitable for material transportation as well as unloading to compost mounds and metering hoppers. The bucket has a width of 2.80 m and a capacity of approx. 4.5 m³. The machine was designed to perform a number of different tasks as described below. The automated wheel loader obviously needed to master at least the same workload as the manually operated model.
The benchmark as regards transport capacity was set at 140 m³/h for the longest travel distance within the plant. Assuming actual loads of 4 m3, which corresponds to about 90 per cent of the bucket capacity, the machine needed to complete 35 runs per hour with a total loading cycle time of 100 seconds.
In the post-composting shed, the mounds must be completely removed, so that there is only a 5 cm strip of material left along the shed wall. This poses of course huge demands on the accuracy of the control system. In automatic mode, the machine's target availability was set at 98 per cent! In other words, the loader could only stand still for maximum 10 minutes per eight-hour shift.
Automated guided vehicle of Rocla designed for the transport of coil in the steel industry (Picture 5)
Turret truck for Euro and special pallets (Picture 6)
• Vehicle dimensions L x W x H: 4,082 x 1,570 x 4,500 mm
• Payload: up to 900 kg
• Lifting range: max. 8,300mm, min. 350 mm
• Lift frame with attached telescopic fork
• Telescopic range 1,150 mm
• In operation at Cambrex, Italy
VARIO vehicle —transport of paper reels (Picture 7)
• Vehicle dimensions: • L x W x H: 7,392 x 2,300 x 2,230 mm
• Payload: up to 20,000 kg
• Paper reel load: max. 2,550 mm, max. length 4,810 mm
• In operation at MD Papier GmbH, Germany
• Vehicle dimensions: • L x W x H: 1,300 x 3,700 x 1,610 mm
• Payload: up to 7,000 kg
• In operation at Airbus Nordenham, Germany
MULTI vehicle for the mounting of car engines on cast plates (Picture 9)
• Vehicle dimensions L x W x H: 1,750 mm x 1,130 mm x 1,340 mm
• Transport capacity: 750,000 engines per year
• In operation at DaimlerChrysler, Cannstatt, Germany
MULTI vehicle for the transport of pallets with beverage containers (Picture 10)
• Vehicle dimensions L x W x H: 5,440 x 1,780 x 3,650 mm
• Payload: 2 x 1,400 kg, on pallets
• In operation at Hijos de Rivera, Spain
• Vehicle dimensions: L x W: 2,160 x 1,600 mm
• Wheel base: 1,245 mm
• Control system: NDC laser navigation; laser height 2,700 mm
• Personal protection: Sick S 300 laser scanner at front and rear
• Max. speed: forward/reverse 1.5 m/s
• Positioning accuracy ± 10 mm
• LAM: 1 roller track
• Transfer height: up to 300 mm
• Max. load: 1,500 kg
Transcar LTC 2 (Picture 12)
• Payload: 500 kg
• Dimensions (L x H x W): 1,738 x 616 x 346 mm
• AC / drive: Vmax 2.0 m/s
• Lift: 40 mm
• Weight: 250 kg
• Safety: SICK laser scanner
• Communication: WLAN 802.11g
• Accuracy: lateral: +/- 15 mm longitudinal: +/- 25 mm
Every automated guided vehicle system consists of at least one vehicle. There is no upper limit as regards the number of vehicles that can be included in a system. We know of AGVSs with several hundred vehicles, which were not uncommon in the automotive industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, such assembly lines are typically being operated with AGVSs of 30 to 70 vehicles. There is a clear trend towards systems with non-contact energy transmission where the vehicles are powered from an underfloor installation, doing away with traction batteries.
AGVSs with a similar number of vehicles per system can also be found in the healthcare sector, namely in large hospitals. For the last couple of years, automated guided vehicle systems have become increasingly popular in this sector. Every year, new AGVSs are installed in about 15 large hospitals worldwide. Five years ago, the University Hospital of Cologne, Germany, introduced a system that currently includes 53 automated guided vehicles.
Most systems in use today run with three to 13 vehicles. In many cases, vehicles of different type are combined with one plant, as this example of an industrial bakery shows : Four ingredient collectors, two decoration transporters and seven kneader bowl transporters are used to make production more efficient.
The picture to the left shows a vehicle in operation at an engine factory of Deutz. In mid-2005, the company introduced an AGVS with inductive power transmission including 30 automated guided vehicles for the final assembly of commercial vehicle engines. The criteria for the choice of technology and system were of course determined by the specific requirements of the engine assembly process.By using automated guided vehicles, Deutz is able to produce engines for construction machines, stationary plants, agricultural machinery and ships at a rate of one every 90 seconds.
Jungheinrich, the leading supplier of industrial trucks, warehousing technology and materials flow technology, operates various AGVSs, including 22 automated guided vehicles with inductive energy transmission. Due to its high availability, this type of system offers not only great advantages for three-shift operation, but also provides unrivalled flexibility as regards material flows and productivity.
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As announced in the renowned "Logistik für Unternehmen" magazine, we have launched this website to provide you with a comprehensive overview and detailed information on automated guided vehicle systems!
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On our website, we wish to cover the whole spectrum of AGVS solutions as available today. Current topics are: