JUL-AUG 2018

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22 INTECH JULY/AUGUST 2018 WWW.ISA.ORG FACTORY AUTOMATION ing using them to improve manufac- turing operations. Advanced methods, such as laser navigation technology of the AGVs, help both avoid the require - ment for in-floor wires (making them highly flexible with easily changed paths) and expand the system quickly without infrastructure investments. These new systems that are software directed allow an AGV with a problem to be replaced quickly with another unit. Automated material handling tech - nology can provide manufacturers many obvious and measurable bene - fits, such as decreased operating costs and increased throughput of materi - als, but they can be extended further. Safety Process safety is improved by elimi- nating the threat of people with handcarts. The manager at a large company that deployed AGVs told me it has reduced damage done by human-operated forklifts. Over time they have determined that the AGVs reduced product and facility damage. Material traceability Material traceability is automatically synchronized and tracked electroni- cally with ERP systems—improving productivity, predictability, and con- sistency of material handling efforts at a reduced cost. Manufacturing KPIs Deploying AGVs connected in real-time with information systems in the plant provides immediate visibility of mate- rial and work-in-process flows and a record for accurate key performance indicators (KPIs). Increased labor productivity Delivering materials and work in pro- cess to the exact spot where they are needed saves the time required for personnel to retrieve materials from inventory locations. Manual material movement is not a high value-added activity. By applying AGVs, manufac - turing employees have the materials and work in process when required, increasing productivity. Flexibility to alter the flow based on changing re - quirements allows employees to be re- positioned to higher-value roles that require more specialized skills or the ability to handle complex tasks. Lower work-in-process time Using AGVs, work-in-process time can be lowered. This increases manufactur- ing throughput and contributes to bet- ter delivery performance, increasing profitability and customer satisfaction. Just-in-time production In highly flexible manufacturing applica- tions where a synchronized production line is not practical, AGVs deliver parts for production orders to machines or manu- al workstations just in time—synchro- nized with production flow. The AGVs can also move the work and process to the appropriate machines or worksta- tions in sequence. This approach lever- ages investments already made in ERP and MES. This can also be coordinated with companies applying 5S, a Japanese method to organize a work space for ef- ficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining be damaged from rough handling. AGVs operate with precisely controlled navigation and acceleration and decel- eration, minimizing the potential for damage and making them an excellent choice for this type of application. Trailer loading Automatically loading trailers is a rela- tively new and increasingly popular application for automated guided ve - hicles. AGVs are used to transport and load pallets of finished goods directly into standard, over-the-road trailers without any special dock equipment. AGVs can pick up pallets from convey - ors, racking, or staging lanes and deliv- er them into the trailer in the specified loading pattern. Some automatic trail - er-loading AGVs use analytics software coupled with vision systems to view the walls of the trailer for navigation and coordinated trailer loading based on delivery routes. AGVs now? Automated guided vehicles have ad- vanced technologically, and there are a number of advantages to automat -

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