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Simply put it’s the replacement of manually operated Mechanical Handling Equipment with robotic operated machinery.

As more and more businesses embrace Industry 4.0 benchmarks, investment in automation and advanced technologies are at the forefront of company’s strategic decisions. With a wide range of options available for the automation of warehouses, Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGV) remain one of the best investments to consider. They come in two formats:

  • Autonomous Lift Trucks (ALT’s) – these can be seen as direct replacements for the pallet trucks, stackers, reach trucks and very narrow aisle vehicles you presently use. They look very similar, have the same functionality but they are operated by robotics. They navigate round the warehouse, locate stock, move it to another position etc, just as a human operator would but are controlled by software.
  • Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR’s) – these are very different to their Lift Truck cousins. Automating and streamlining warehouse interzone transport they are intelligent individual robots engineered to move a diverse range of inventory payloads – on pallets, racks, cages or trolleys – amongst zones in a warehouse. They are dedicated platforms solely responsible for moving things around. They don’t lift or place stock, that’s left to the ALT’s, but they are lower cost alternatives and have a major role to play in the automation of a warehouse.
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Why Robotic Handling?

Scalable, more efficient and easy to implement...

There are many reasons why you should invest in robotic handling for your intralogistics set up. Here are just a few main ones:

  • Similar Principle – Autonomous Lift trucks can look and operate in a very similar way to traditional mechanical handling equipment, they even come in similar sizes and configurations. Even the smaller Autonomous Mobile Robots perform similar functions. This means there isn’t the need to totally replace things like racking, aisle width etc. They collaborate with an existing warehouse, they don’t require a full replacement of it.
  • Increased Goods Handling Ability and Safety - One major benchmark that warehouse management look at is secure handling of loads and the safety of operators. By investing in AGV’s, with their precision handling and robust performance, your goods transfer and handling ability will be safer and faster.
  • Greater Efficiency – With more reliable and faster operations plus operational software integration into the warehouse management system, companies investing in AGV’s will have greater control over inventory and thus increase their operational efficiency.
  • Return on Investment - Over a period of time, using AGV’s will save you money in operating costs and manpower and give major employee benefits. They reduce damage to goods and give better day to day control of inventory. Break-even will come relatively quickly and a return will be made on investment over the lifetime of the vehicle.
  • Scalability - An AGV system also wins out when there is a need to scale up the operations after a few years. All that is required are additions to the fleet of trucks or robots, traffic management software looks after the increase in movements.

It is quite common for AGV’s to be compared with investment in fixed automation, for example conveyor belts. Both are essentially used to transfer goods from one point in a warehouse to another. However, one major advantage of the AGV system is the ease of implementation. AGVs operate with an advanced navigation system, which maps the warehouse and simultaneously uses technology like cameras and lasers to move pallets etc. This means that there is no additional infrastructure or other requirements needed to implement an AGV system, keeping your existing warehouse and operations intact. An AGV system also scores when there is a potential need to scale up the operations after a few years.