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Leveraging Small Automated Guided Vehicles for Big Payback

Planning a new automation system or an expansion might feel like a big task.  However, did you know that one of your best solutions could also be one of the smallest? Let’s talk about how small automated guided vehicles (AGVs) might give more value than anticipated.

What is an Automated Guided Vehicle?

AGVs are defined as autonomous mobile robots. These robots convey unit loads along the floor of a facility independent from an onboard operator or driver in command. AGVs are a great option to support handling and conveying functions, while also saving storage space.

So what makes AGVs cost effective?

Since small AGVs can easily operate within an existing facility, streamlining an expansion budget or holding off on a new build is a possibility. An introduction of an AGVs into your process may keep you from spending on a physical expansion.

What kind of operations should consider using an AGV?

While almost any facility can benefit from an AGV solution, some operations are prime candidates. They are ideal for companies that want to add automation to their process, but are worried about the disruption a big project can cost.

Small AGVs are easy to get running. This means you will see a savings in both time and investment. This is why small AGVs might just be the perfect solution for your company.

AGVs are a lean approach to automation

AGVs can help optimize labor. That's because they move products from loading areas to assembly, to distribution and picking areas. If you rely on a just-in-time manufacturing method, a small AGV can serve as a great transfer system for that. By saving on transportation and transfers within your warehouse, you will reduce labor costs across the board.

What Makes Small AGVs Work

Small AGVs function autonomously throughout your facility. Many operate by following an unobtrusive track made by laying out magnetic tape or RFID technology. With this type of track, a small AGV will function across its predetermined path, moving units to the final destination. By using the traffic control of the software control system, AGVs deliver your product wherever it needs to be.

Small AGVs are also great assembly solutions, letting you move products through production processes. They are used for kitting, transportation, and staging. The autonomous capabilities are ideal for warehousing tasks.

What you can achieve in your warehouse will depend on the type of AGV you implement. For example, the SALLY AGV system is a great solution for:

  • Material handling

  • Storage retrieval

  • Small parts

  • Raw materials

  • Transporting materials

  • Moving materials

  • Production lines

Small Package, Large Features

It's clear that small AGVs offer value to almost any operation. As product moves through your facility, the vehicle keeps it on track allowing for greater accountability and accuracy. With smart collision avoidance, an AGV detects any possible hazards in real time. The end result means that facility maintenance costs are reduced.

Collision avoidance also helps for personnel safety. Small AGVs can help reduce on-site incident rates. As small AGVs follow their guided paths, they will stop if someone crosses the predestined path.

As your material handling and production needs develop, an AGV path can adapt. With fewer restrictions, AGVs will not create the same spatial issues as conveyors, and require less storage than lift trucks. Thanks to the small size, your system gains scalability — you can expand your inventory of AGVs if needed.

Since small AGV systems run on predictable schedules, costs are predictable. This tempers labor costs, while also adding labor efficiency to the mix. When product can be brought to picking and packing stations, employees can focus on their tasks at hand.

Saving Costs, Adding Value

For international third party logistics provider DSV in Brampton, Canada, their process involved picking and packing complimentary samples and gifts with many of their orders. This required moving lots of product through the warehouse. To solve this, SSI SCHAEFER experts worked with DSV to integrate a fleet of small WEASEL® AGVs working in conjunction with the SSI Carrier system. 

This process starts with workers picking cases of product that are then brought to picking stations. This means product comes directly to employees picking, allowing them to focus on getting value added items into SSI Carrier hanging bangs.

By adding a small AGV system into your facility, you can save on labor, ensure scalability, and avoid the issues that can arise from large construction projects. If you’d like to talk with an automation expert about how we can implement a small AGV for your operation, let’s talk!

DSV Success Story