There are some manufacturing and business environments where automation just makes sense. A secure facility is one of them.
Custom-configured, light-capacity automated guided vehicles from Creform Corp. are ideal for secure facilities, as they can take associates out of the equation as much as possible, explains Keith Sonderlund, vice president of sales.
"This custom vehicle configuration has a touch-screen control that allows the customer to program up to 50 custom delivery routes," Sonderlund tells New Equipment Digest. "Our peel-and-stick magnetic tape guidepath was well-suited for the customer. The customer was looking for a cost-effective solution to deliver materials from the manufacturing area to the shipping area. AGVs are used in a secure facility. Automating the long distance of routine material handling adds a security benefit since it minimizes personnel interaction between the departments."
NED: How is this AGV different from similar ones on the market today?
KS: This was a custom designed and built unit utilizing standard Creform bi-directional drive unit and accessories. Not too many AGV manufacturers would be interested in such a small and relatively light capacity unit, especially a custom. Since Creform has all the components necessary to build an AGV, customer vehicle configurations are normal for us.
NED: What problems needed to be addressed during the development process?
KS: Because this is a secure facility we can’t access, we had to design the AGVs and system for the customer to support. Creform’s peel-and-stick magnetic tape guidepath was well suited for the customer to install themselves.
NED: How long did it take from conception to final production?
KS: Sixteen weeks.
NED: What effect did cost factors have in changing the final design of the product?
KS: The original unit provided a payback of three months but with limited flexibility. The final version allowed the customer to customize 50 different routes in the system and still allow a four-month payback.
NED: Who is your target audience and what benefits will they achieve from using this product?
KS: The AGV allows our customer to remove or replace workers to a more beneficial role other than delivering materials. AGVs with their onboard safety equipment are inherently safer than the manually driven tuggers or pallet trucks. They also operate at a safe and controlled speed, which helps ensure load integrity during transit.
NED: Do you have any other interesting information you would like to add?
KS: Its not often that we’re asked to move documents. This is not our typical industrial customer, but the needs are the same. They have large unit loads which are boxed documents, in this case, that need to be moved in a repetitive operation. Often the AGV automatically loads and unloads the unit load. In this case, the AGV is loaded/unloaded manually either with a forklift or by personnel. Since there is no stationary equipment at either end of the route, it helps keep the cost down. The downside is that you become reliant on the prompt attention of personnel when the AGV stops.