Automated Guided Vehicle System (AGVS)

A computer-controlled materials handling system consisting of small vehicles (carts) that move along a guideway.

An Automated Guided Vehicle System (AGVS) is a system used to transport materials in a warehouse. They are sometimes referred to as automated guided carts (AGC), an automated guided vehicle (AGV), or simply a “robot.” These systems typically use laser, RFID and/or vision technologies.

To put it in simple terms, AGVs function similar to trucks in that they provide direct transporation of goods rather than human-assisted transportation. The difference is they aren’t driven by people – but they can be programmed using sophisticated technology.

A relatively new technology, AGVs have already been implemented within many major manufacturing companies such as BMW, Honda, Volvo and Boeing.

The most common use of AGVs is within the material handling and storage industry. There are a couple of different types of these systems:

AGV software is available both as off-the-shelf packages and custom solutions – depending on your company’s needs.

This technology can also be used simultaneously with many other logistics, supply chain and manufacturing technologies such as RFID , warehouse management systems (WMS), voice picking and more.

AGVs are also able to be used for many other applications such as vehicle routing, medical logistics, route planning, delivery services and more.

The advantages of AGVs are extensive, but overall they are most valuable when used for repeatable material transport routes.

The following is a list of advantages AGVs provide:

  1. Decreased human error: The ability to automatically transport materials reduces the risk of human error and allows for better management of warehouse operations as a result.
  2. Increased accuracy: Automated guided vehicles can carry items at specific locations within a warehouse with much higher accuracy compared to manual labor. This improves upon the quality and efficiency of warehousing operations, as well as inventory accuracy and organization.
  3. Improved material flow: AGVs typically use technology such as RFID and GPS to navigate accurately and efficiently around warehouses, even following complex patterns and routes that might not be possible with manual labor alone. This results in increased worker safety when it comes to dangerous areas or processes (such as forklift driving or picking), while also allowing for improved inventory management. In addition, due to the fact that AGVs can work longer hours and make fewer mistakes than humans, they are able to transport materials with a higher frequency resulting in faster material flow throughout warehouses.
  4. Improved capacity: A warehouse‘s capacity is increased when automated guided vehicles are used. This results from more efficient storage and retrieval of items due to better organization and accuracy as well as increased worker safety by avoiding dangerous areas . Therefore, by using AGVs within a warehouse it is possible for smaller warehouses to efficiently hold the same number of items as larger ones without any loss in quality or efficiency.
  5. Decreased labor costs: By effectively decreasing labor needed in warehouses, companies may be able save on overall labor costs . This is a result of decreased worker injuries and accidents, as well as lower turnover rates.
  6. Decreased equipment costs: By reducing the need for extra labor, companies may be able to decrease or avoid entirely the need for some equipment such as forklifts or order pickers

The disadvantages of AGVs are:

  1. Initial capital investment: Due to the fact that these systems require significant equipment and software, they are typically more expensive than manual labor alone.
  2. Maintenance costs: AGV systems require frequent supervision in order to repair or replace defective parts during operation, which increases overall maintenance costs.
  3. Downtime due to malfunctions: Without proper supervision of AGVs, these systems can malfunction causing downtime, while also introducing dangerous situations for warehouse workers .
  4. Initial training required : Since workers will need some time to become accustomed to working with new technology, there may be temporary disruptions within warehouses when implementing this system. Once introduced however, employees typically have little difficulty using AGVs effectively for their jobs.
  5. Complexity of routing / planning: Since AGVs are able to go about their business with little to no guidance, the systems required for use can be complex. This may lead to issues in terms of software compatibility, hardware functionality and more.

Automated guided vehicle
Automatic Guided Vehicles