Intralogistics systems are self-driving AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) based on AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles). They are designed for automatic transport of components and finished goods in the production hall or warehouse. Moving along the designated routes, they transport standard pallets, containers, and logistics baskets. The operation of AGVs is supervised (...)
Mobile robots – what are the AGV/AMR systems?
Internal transport automation in warehouses of production halls is becoming increasingly popular and its systems are being continuously developed. The AGV/AMR systems based on a fleet of mobile robots and devices cooperating with them are becoming specific symbols of the fourth industrial revolution whose aim is to facilitate internal logistical processes. First AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles), i.e., automated vehicles were put into use as early as the middle of the 20th century. Nowadays, other automated transport systems are being developed on the basis of this technology that differ in the way of picking up the load, transporting it as well as navigating. Self-driving AMRs are the best example. They are frequently called intelligent since they do not require a physically designated transport route and move along any route. These autonomous mobile robots use natural navigation. Equipped with 2D scanners and 3D cameras, they create a map of the terrain with naturally occurring obstacles such as walls or other machines. Thanks to that the transport robot can identify obstacles on its own and avoid them. With a designated point to reach, it determines the optimal route for itself. In addition, it is equipped with the whole security system thanks to which it operates smoothly and seamlessly. Although at first glance mobile robots seem unpredictable to people, they cooperate with them well, clearly informing them about the manoeuvres being conducted using light and sound messages. Because of the flexibility of operation and the speed of implementation, they are perfect solutions in company automation.
Autonomous robots AMRs – application
Mobile robots have an exceptionally broad range of application. They can be used in many areas of industry and logistics. They turn out to be useful wherever there is in-company transport. Used in production halls, they deliver components for production, collect finished products and waste materials, transporting them to the selected areas. They are ideal for the furniture, electronics, and textile industries and many others. An autonomous robot will also do a great job in warehouse work, transporting goods to and from the warehouse. Depending on the selected type, warehouse robots can also perform other activities such as, for example, ordering means of transport. They help to unload and pick orders. Industry and logistics are not the only areas where AMRs can be used. They will also prove useful at airports to transport luggage, and in hospitals to deliver meals or collect waste. They are so universal that they can prove helpful in many other undertakings.
AGVs/AMRs mobile robots from design to implementation
An efficiently operating intralogistics system does not only consist of mobile robots, but also a well-designed automation of internal transport based on the existing plant infrastructure using also, depending on the needs, cooperative devices such as RFID equipment, automatic pallet lifts, code readers, IT systems and solutions, e.g., IntraFleet, driving docks for loading and unloading pallets and others. For internal transport to be efficient and for space to be well used, it is significant for the whole system to be well designed and adapted to the existing conditions, taking safety into consideration. Various types of AGVs/AMRs can be used in the design.
Various types of mobile robots
Transport robots can come in a variety of types, and a particular type is also frequently designed to accommodate lighter or heavier loads. Among them there are:
– mobile warehouse robots for transporting loads on pallets,
– warehouse robots with a lift for transportation,
– autonomous robots for transporting racks with containers,
– tow tractor robots intended for towing bogies or wheeled baskets,
– autonomous mobile robots for moving wheeled baskets,
Depending on the needs, appropriate types of robots and devices cooperating with them are selected. Before designing the entire system, it is necessary to conduct a pre-implementation analysis.
Mobile robots – what does the pre-implementation analysis look like?
To identify the customer’s specific needs a pre-implementation analysis is conducted so that the optimal internal transport, which mobile robots are part of, can be designed for the customer. It consists of two stages.
Transport robots – stage 1 of the analysis
The customer does not incur any costs for the first stage. Its aim is to evaluate the system capability and costs of its implementation.
In the first stage of the analysis, general assumptions of the system are determined, such as:
– the number of robots,
– the number of logistical points,
– the location of the navigation paths along which the transport robots will move.
This work is carried out in FlexSim software that makes it possible to simulate production and logistical processes. After completing this stage of the pre-implementation analysis, customers receive a detailed offer containing the specification of the offered system.
Mobile robots – stage 2 of the analysis
The second stage of the analysis contains a detailed design of the system, during which intralogistics processes, in which mobile robots are used, are modelled, taking into consideration all and any factors that could disrupt their operation, such as the movement of machine operators or other transport vehicles. The design also takes into consideration company development issues and possible expansions of the system. Apart from the advanced simulation, in this stage the customer is also provided with the detailed designs of the essential infrastructure and recommended IT solutions. Regardless of this, an extensive risk analysis is presented together with a preliminary safety audit. The stage concludes with the signing of the FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) protocols that confirm that the design complies with the offer. Once the stage has been approved by the parties, the production and implementation stage begins.
Autonomous robots – what does the system implementation look like?
At the beginning, the necessary system infrastructure, such as chargers, servers, docks, and markings, is installed. After such preparation, first autonomous mobile robots appear in the production hall. They are started up and their route is scanned to create a map of the area with logistical points. Simultaneously, the IntraFleet system is launched together with the integration of the already operating IT systems for production management, warehouse management or automated machines. Then autonomous robots are integrated with the master system and preliminary tests are conducted. Each logistical point as well as each transport robot is tested. Then performance testing of the system and a final safety audit are conducted. After a continuous two-week operation, the SAT (Site Acceptance Testing) protocol is signed.
Autonomous mobile robots and security
A significant and extremely important disrupting factor of robotic environments can be humans. With regard to the fact that people work in the halls and mobile robots are supposed to help them in this work, Etisoft Smart Solutions places the issue of human safety among mobile robotics remarkably high. For this reason, above all, a two-stage pre-implementation analysis combined with a simulation of various events and risks is conducted, which is followed by thorough testing during the implementation process. All warehouse robots are equipped with sub-assemblies of top quality and reliability from renowned brands, which directly translates into safe transport. IntraFleet master system ensures automatic real-time data exchange with customer’s systems and guarantees safety of all processes. Regardless of this, the autonomous mobile robots offered here meet the required safety standards, the most essential of which is the PN-EN 3691-4 standard, and Etisoft is a technologically mature company with 25 years of experience that you can trust.
Transport robots – what else should you know?
AMRs can be used in many industries. It is only under such extreme conditions such as extremely low or temperatures, high dustiness, or humidity that another power-electric equipment is required, which AGVs/AMRs are equipped with.
Another important issue if the possibility of making changes to the already operating AGV/AMR system due to company expansion or changes in operations. Many significant development issues are already taken into consideration during the system design stage. Necessary changes to the system or routes can be made very quickly, even within one day. In this case autonomous robots will need to re-map the terrain. For reasons of safety in general, Etisoft takes responsibility for making changes and for the proper operation of autonomous transport.