Traditional chain-based conveyance is highly mechanical. Frequent maintenance is required. With so few moving parts, AGV maintenance costs are lower, making this a lower-lifecycle-cost alternative for the customer.
In a different application, a battery-free AGV is being designed with an integrated scissor lift for an automaker. In this case, the AGV line interacts with the customer’s existing overhead power and free conveyor. The vehicle chassis is brought in on overhead conveyance, and the AGV carries the exhaust system to be lifted up and attached to the vehicle from underneath. The AGVs are in a loop, so that while exhaust systems are decked to the chassis on one AGV, a new exhaust system is loaded onto another AGV.
For a commercial aircraft manufacturer, the primary benefit of battery-free AGVs is that all of the electrical power, air hoses, testing cables, and tool connections can travel with the aircraft as it’s being built. Instead of taking many hours to connect and disconnect all of its cables and hoses, the airframe can move directly from one station to the next, carrying its connections with it. This would be impossible with traditional conveyance.
Beyond assembly lines, battery-free AGVs are suited for material handling of large quantities of printing press paper, steel, liquids, and other high-weight products. Die change is also suited for battery-free AGVs, where a 100-ton stamping press may make car hoods during one shift and fenders the next. With IPT guiding the AGV path, dies can safely and easily move in and out of the stamping press. As long as there’s a path that varies predictably, this type of AGV is a safe and cost-effective solution.
There will always be a need for battery-powered AGVs, especially where paths vary unpredictably and loads are light. But when heavy lifting is required and paths vary on a predictable basis, battery-free AGVs are the best choice.
Rod Emery is a vice president at Superior Controls Inc.
This is truly a great innovation. With the ability to reconfigure the production line quickly, without major investment, plants should be much more efficient. The use of software to control the device makes it easier to reconfigure and reuse. Smart devices make for smart processes.
This could also make for some interesting dynamic programming problems.
Thanks for the comment. As you note, this innovation allows you to quickly make changes to your conveyance path and operation without significant demolition and installation labor or material. The major risks associated with traditional assembly line automation and conveyance has been removed, the few remaining risks are mitigated by proving out every AGV on our test track prior to shipment to the customer site.
Any additional programming required for new or unique applications is developed and validated at our Plymouth, MI facility well in advance of deployment to the customer site.
Rod, no doubt this is really a very innovative approach. Few years back in every device and machinery alot of material wiring, cabling and hardware was required but as technology is moving ahead embedded and control systems are becomming more popular 70 percent of the machinery works on software and hardware has been reduces to 30 percent only . That is why these days there is a lot of demand of software engineers and embedded and control system experts.
However control system and embedded system based machinery is more expensive but it requires less workers to operate it hence the upfront cost can later act as a profit as well because it drops down high salary paying tensions. On the other hand from employees perspective it is not good because it has dropped employement.
Secondly software based machinery and devices are although initially very costly but as we all know that technology is changing every moment it is very easy to upgrade them rather than replacing the whole machinery only the particular software can be upgraded.
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