Integrating AGVs in the Factory

Smart Material Management in the Factory: You Need to Integrate Your AGVs

Jan. 22, 2023
Integrating AGV management with intralogistics systems to boost efficiency and achieve the full value of their investment.

Changing Needs on the Factory Floor

As competition tightens and profit margins are whittled down, manufacturers are driven to boost efficiency through the full automation of manufacturing processes. The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated the trend. Forced to minimize human intervention and presence on the shop floor to prevent contagion, manufacturers raced to automate.

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, this fueled increased investments in industrial automation solutions, including automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to move materials from place to place in the plant. The trend towards automation is also impacted by a growing awareness of environmental issues and stricter regulation in recent years. Companies are driven to set increasingly ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals that affect all aspects of the production process.

To meet these ambitious goals, manufacturers are adopting advanced, data-driven solutions that will help improve their material and logistics management and minimize waste on the shop floor.

Integration Challenges

Companies looking to address the above challenges and meet their automation goals often introduce intralogistics systems to better manage materials throughout the production process. Intralogistics systems can be configured to build the most accurate dispatch and transport orders because they maintain information about real-time material needs and provide an optimized sorting of the material that needs to be transported.

If AGVs are connected to the intralogistics system, it can automatically create transport orders for the AGVs, sending them to retrieve and transport the materials. This reduces the need for human intervention both in creating the orders and in physically moving around the plant to fulfill them. However, in many cases, intralogistics systems are not integrated with the AGVs. Instead, AGVs receive manual requests from a fleet management system or directly from humans.

Although many manufacturers are aware of the benefits of integrating AGVs with their intralogistics system, the complexity of integrating proprietary systems can be a major barrier. This is often the case even when the factory management team is committed to full digitalization.

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