Guided vehicles are computer-controlled transportation units that perform applications without any sort of human direction or control. They are used for material handling and transportation applications and can be designed for sorting, storage, delivery, or product assembly use. Guided vehicles, or automatic guided vehicles, reduce labor costs in manufacturing processes by providing high volumes of repetitive and tedious movements and actions with around-the-clock capabilities.
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Applications of Guided Vehicles
Cumbersome loads and heavy weights are able to be moved more efficiently by guided vehicles than by manual labor. Transfer cars and towing vehicles are two examples of vehicles in the guided vehicle family. Wide use of automated guided vehicles is found in several industries, including food and beverage processing, mail and newspaper, general manufacturing, storage and packaging, aerospace, and parts assembly.
Guided Vehicle Design and Customization
Typically powered by industrial strength batteries or by electricity, guided vehicles can range greatly in size and capability depending on their intended application. For lighter manufacturing processes, such as light load transportation, electronic fabrication, or small parts assembly and delivery, light load AGVs are ideal. Larger AGVs, such as pallet loading trucks or automatic guided carts, can be used for heavy load movement. Other processes may require guided vehicles, such as material handling robots, which have more complex capabilities than a simple towing car.
Guided vehicles are able to fit into small spaces and work alongside employees in many applications. These electric battery powered vehicles are useful in indoor applications where no sudden or essential decisions are made that cannot be done by automated machinery, so they will often still require the assistance of a traffic operator. However, these carts eliminate the risk of bumping, crashes, and collisions and, as such, have become popular alternatives to manually operated cart transports, conveyors, and forklift trucks.
Benefits of Using Guided Vehicles
Despite the potentially high initial investment of installing an AGV system into a manufacturing plant, guided vehicles provide many benefits to a manufacturer. They reduce labor costs by increasing the efficiency and accuracy of operational procedures. Machines can work faster and longer than laborers can and, if programmed correctly, are less likely to make errors. Furthermore, in terms of transportation and movement, automatic guided vehicles provide safer worker environments by reducing manual intervention in the process. Vehicles can be equipped with an infrared detection system, or a bumper system, which helps to reduce the damage potential of collisions. Free range AVG systems, which are controlled by computer software and international navigation capabilities, are able to adjust a vehicle’s route according to flow of traffic and possible obstructions, therefore making the factory floor a safer place to work.