Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are already a familiar sight in distribution and logistics centers. Now manufacturing wants a slice of their cost savings and efficiency, too, alongside the industry’s other initiatives in robotics and automatization. “We are seeing that the market for AGVs in industry is clearly growing,” says Magnus Nilsson, Purchaser for Jernbro’s automation department.
Jernbro is a leading supplier of customer-specific automation solutions. It develops complete solutions with AGVs, overall control, fixtures, robotic loading and unloading for both assembly applications and production-close logistics applications.
Precise solutions with customized AGVs
“For instance we have developed quite a niche at Jernbro, focused on manufacturing, and particularly of engines for heavy-duty trucks,” Nilsson continues. “We always work closely with our customers to ensure we can deliver precisely tailored solutions.”
Jernbro’s AGV solutions fall into two main application classes: ergonomic and shuttle. “The ergonomic application follows the whole line, moving items of all sizes to ensure first-class ergonomics for the engineers working on them,” says Nilsson. “The shuttle application moves items between locations without the need for permanent tracks, which makes it a very flexible solution.” Many Jernbro solutions incorporate a Hymo-VPG lift table in the AGV. “They are so easy to integrate,” says Nilsson. “We recently used Hymo-VPG lift tables as bolt-on products for nine of our units.”
Christer Martinelle, Technical Sales at Hymo-VPG, is excited about the prospects for AGVs with lift tables. “Our big lift tables, which will easily lift a truck, have earned an equally big reputation. AGVs need something different, something more compact, and that’s where our smaller models are perfect.” He cites the new AX5 model as an example: “It’s the smallest lift table on the market, and has innovative integrated hydraulics.”
Opportunities for cost savings in manufacturing
“We recognize how AGVs are opening up cost savings for manufacturing,” says Martinelle. “The flexibility of AGVs makes them ideal for Lean manufacturing. You can design a production line that can be adapted quickly to changing working conditions.” Nilsson agrees: “A fixed conveyor line is hard to redesign and change, once it’s in place with permanent fittings in the floor or ceiling. Another example is our shuttle solution for movements between floors, which uses AGVs rather than a rail solution and costs much less.”
The lifetime cost is key
Jernbro AGVs are frequency-driven, with magnets in the floor, which offers simplicity and flexibility. “We also offer a laser/contour navigation system,” notes Nilsson. “The initial outlay might be higher, but it’s the lifetime cost that’s important – and it’s the job of the Purchaser to see that bigger picture.”