Self Propelled Vehicles
Self propelled vehicles are computer-controlled motor units used for material handling and transportation in a wide range of applications. Also known as automatic guided vehicles, self propelled vehicles are able to perform applications without any sort of human direction or control, thus allowing operational processes and tasks to be achieved more efficiently and more often.
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Applications of Self Propelled Vehicles
Automated guided vehicles were originally designed for use in industrial activities, but they have become popular alternatives to manual cart transports, conveyors, and forklift trucks in many types of applications. Many industries, including automotive assembly, general manufacturing, food and beverage processing, mail and newspaper, and aerospace, use self propelled vehicles for sorting, storing, delivering, and assembling parts and products.
Self Propelled Vehicle Design and Customization
From towing vehicles and transfer cars to material handling robots, AGVs can vary greatly in design, size, and capabilities. They may have a towing mechanism, room for unit or pallet loading, fork lifts, space for light loads, or qualities needed in assembly lines, such as a robotic arm. They are typically powered by industrial strength batteries or electricity. Required power capacity will depend on the intended application and load of the vehicle and can be adjusted to fit custom specifications. Some self propelled vehicles are used in cleanroom applications in which human participation would interfere with the processes being undertaken. These vehicles need to be designed and constructed carefully using sanitary materials and processes.
How Self Propelled Vehicles Work
There are different navigation systems used with self propelled vehicles. Most commonly found today are free range guidance systems that rely on computer software and programming combined with internal navigation capabilities to direct the guided vehicles. Laser paths and scanners are used with laser guided vehicles to ensure vehicles stay on route without collisions. Older AGV systems utilize fixed path guidance, which relies on signals from embedded wire, magnetic tape, or colored paints to guide the vehicles. Free range systems offer the added benefits of flexibility and operator control to the vehicles. Furthermore, with internal navigation, the AGVs are able to change route according to traffic or potential obstacles, creating smooth operational flow.
Benefits of Using Self Propelled Vehicles
AGV systems provide high volumes of repetitive movement and can be designed with the capacity for far greater loads and weights than manual labor provides. They also reduce the factor of human negligence in the movement of vehicles and loads, thereby reducing the risk of bumping, crashes, and collisions on the manufacturing floor. In general, these vehicles reduce labor costs, increase efficiency, and provide safer working environments, so they are well worth the initial cost of installation.