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2021-07-01

Design Considerations for AGV's

What is an AGV? 

AGV is short for Automated Guided Vehicle. AGVs are automated and computer controlled transportation robots that can be used for a range of tasks. Common types of AGVs include Automated Guided Forklifts and Automated Guided picking robots. 

You typically see AGV’s in manufacturing and warehousing but can also be used for inspection, transportation, military and exploration applications. 

What are the benefits of AGV's?

AGVs can be designed to conduct a wide range of functions. These include remote handling, packing & picking, scanning, measuring & monitoring, signalling & detecting, machine vision & transportation, to name just a few.

As well as being able to conduct multiple tasks, AGVs are equipped with the best safety technology meaning there is little to no chance of collisions or unsafe conditions. 

You typically see AGV's in a warehouse used for logistics, optimising productivity and reducing labour costs at the same time.

Design Considerations

Now that we have established what an AGV is and the benefits of using AGVs, we will go through some of the important design considerations. 

The industrial automation specialists at OEM Automatic can advise on and supply a wide range of elements suitable for AGVs. 

Let’s look into some of the components and some of the highly recommended brands that go together.

Vision

Cameras:

For your AGV to see, you must give it eyes. Cameras can be used to capture objects and scenes in 3 dimensions and are highly useful in logistics and AGV’s. This means that you can get 2D and 3D images in high resolution within a small compact system. They can be used to generate depth data and measure distance.

Key Facts:

  • Captures large objects and entire scenes e.g. loaded pallets in warehouses can be measured by depth data
  • Designed to fit in warehouse conditions and attached to AGV’s
  • Light source pre integrated into the camera housing, meaning result is compact without moving components
  • The camera works in daytime light conditions and indoor, even in strong sunlight
  • Can include Precision Time Protocol to synchronise multiple cameras in a network

A typical use would be a warehouse where several AGV’s with cameras are moving in a confined space. 

We recommend BaslersTOF Camera (Image 1), which is packed with advanced and useful technology.

Barcode Readers:

Traceability improvements lead to performance improvement, transforming all capabilities in logistics and increasing productivity. You would typically see 1D and 2D barcode scanners in a warehouse and on an AGV. These help to track information and data, helping you keep track of what is happening. 

Traceability is the biggest advantage of using a barcode scanner on an AGV, achieving higher productivity. Some are faster than ever and have great visual quality. Not forgetting they can be extremely configurable.

Key facts:

  • Fixed position, replacing the need for operators to scan items manually using a handheld barcode scanner
  • It can transform traceability capabilities in all logistics and intralogistics applications
  • Many configurations
  • Some can be customised with range of lenses, lighting, filters and more
  • Flexible reading 
  • Designed to read fast moving barcodes
  • Some designed to read most challenging printed labels and marked parts

Take a look at our Datalogic Matrix 320 barcode reader (Image 2). 

Sensing and Detecting:

Being able to sense and detect is one of the most practical, time saving and efficient purposes of an AGV, which eliminates the use of labour. Components that sense and detect can be used for platform load, weight detection, movement, presence and position detection in the warehouse.  These features are also used for the critical safety of the AGV and minimise any potential risk.

Safety Laser Scanner – A Safety Device

Safety laser scanners can be mounted onto AGV’S, and warning zones can be programmed to automatically change the vehicle's position, speed, and direction.  Additionally, there are versions with encoder inputs to allow safe measuring of the speed of the vehicle. The purpose is to ensure staff safety whilst improving efficiency and Is what makes the AGV so special and innovative.

Key Facts:

  • Can program the scanner to mute areas of varying size and position, achieved by muting sensors that would be activated by the machine or load that will be entering or exiting the unsafe area
  • Easy to set up, the unit's configuration is via the bundled software, which will quickly guide you through the set up process

See more about our Datalogic Safety Laser Scanner, which is an innovation in workplace safety (Image 3). 

Lidar Guidance Scanner

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) uses laser-based time-of-flight (ToF) technology to construct a 360-degree view for the guidance of AGV’S. These are used purely for guidance and navigation of AGV’s and can also measure distance, making them super important in terms of manoeuvring the robot in the right direction.

Key facts:

  • 360 degree and 50- meter visibility 
  • Broad temperature ranges
  • Some protection against dust and water – great for indoor industrial environments
  • Used in material handling and manufacturing
  • Speeds up efficiency and measuring too

Datalogic provides Lidar guidance scanners that use infrared laser technology and achieves navigation of AGV’s moving up to 2 m/s and a scan rate of up to 25 Hz and 60,000 measurements per second (Image 4).

Using this and the safety laser scanner together offers a complete solution to safety and sensing!

Control Panel Components:

Electrical components can be found on the inside and outside of an AGV. Many different features aid control and make the electronics work, so we are touching on a few.

Emergency Stop Solution

Safety is a priority! Emergency stops must be a part of any AGV, and you must have a completely reliable stop device. Safety is of utmost importance, and this is a simple but essential device that can be pulled/turned or key-controlled depending on the product. 

An Emergency stop solution consists of a mushroom head designed to ‘push’ with the action of a sufficient force to open the contact and triggers an irreversible locking of the opening. Then, an emergency stop signal gets cancelled only by deliberate manual resetting of the mushroom head.

Key Facts:

  • Insulating material ensuring electrical safety
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Options for illuminated emergency stop mushroom head: pull, turn or unlocking key
  • Mushroom head has a yellow ring visible in the deactivated position giving a clear visual indication when activated.

Our BACO emergency stop solutions can be found here and meet EIC standards for emergency stop actuators. You can choose from 3 types of emergency stops and 3 types of mush-room heads. (image 5)

Signalling Beacon

A beacon should be visible on an AGV to show signals. A regular beacon would be suitable for this and is designed for maximum signalling effect, and it is also very easy to mount. There is also an option for a beacon and sounder combo for maximum effectiveness. 

Key Facts:

  • Comes in LED Steady, flashing, strobe, xenon and multifunctional
  • Wide range of colours
  • Audible base option, or audible/visual alarm which is suited for large indoor and outdoor areas
  • All types of mounting
  • Up to IP69 rated
  • M22 beacon sounder combo for smaller applications

Check out AUER’s beacon range, which has two light module designs. The R Series is a powerful, flexible and robust system. (Image 6)

Cable Glands

Cable glands suitable for use on AGV’s provide EMC shielding that achieves an effective contact to the cable screen. 

Key Facts:

  • Protective clamping of cable shields means excellent shield contact and the smallest possible transfer impedance
  • Quick and easy contact of partially stripped shield cables and exposed cable shields
  • Restriction free cable installation 

Agro’s EMC Cable glands guarantee complete control during installation, compensating for tolerances in shielding thicknesses to make a secure and reliable connection to the cable screen. (Image 7)

Motors

An AGV to move and perform physical activities will require motors and other related components such as linear actuators. We will look at a few particular products that relate to AGV’s big and small. 

Motors and Gear Motors

A simple DC powered gear motor may be used for applications such as internal flaps, doors, or movable dividers that present a low power requirement, up to fully networked high power brushless traction drive motors. Depending on the type of AGV you have, it is best to work with us to find the right components that you need. (image 8)

Key Facts:

  • ‘Simple’ brushed DC for basic movements.
  • Brushless DC for high power in a small package, with control and feedback
  • Networked motors with built-in drives for high levels of control.
  • Local or remote drive options available
  • IP ratings to suit the application

OEM Automatic can provide a wide range of motors and gear-motors suitable for AGV applications from a variety of manufactures including Crouzet, Minimotor and Doga.

Linear Actuators

Linear actuators can be used for many operations on and within AGVs. We can provide 35mm long miniature linear actuators to operate an internal door or camera lens cover, up to a large capacity unit for lifting components or replacing hydraulic lifts – all depending on the type of AGV you have.

Key Facts:

  • More popular than pneumatic and hydraulic systems due to power and precision 
  • Used for lifting, pushing or positioning
  • Modular structure so can interchange with existing cylinders
  • Various control options for performance flexibility, safety and cost-effectiveness.
  • Lubrication for high or low ambient temperatures

We suggest looking into Actuonix for linear actuators.

Solenoids and Electromagnets

Solenoids and electromagnets are used to lock compartments and security bolts. You’d use these for interlocks, holding doors/panels/dividers and cage locks.

Key facts:

  • Options for high cycle counts and or long power-on time 
  • Solenoids for push and or pull work 
  • Power-on to hold or release electromagnets 
  • Quality product for increased efficiency and minimal failures.
  • Full bespoke design options available for large quantities (typically 10k+)

We recommend NAFSAs range of extensive electromagnets. With their specialist knowledge in the electromagnet field, they lead the way in this industry. (Image 10)

 

A mere insight into a few of the components that make an AGV what it is today. Logistics, manufacturing and distribution are becoming unimaginable without Automated Guided Vehicles. Say bye to inefficiency, human error and time-consuming processes!

Email [email protected] if you would like more information about AGVs and the components required. 

OEM can help you with all industrial automation application enquiries.

Blog

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Vision

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3D cameras

3D vision unlocks the power of accurately locating items and inspecting features in three dimensions (X, Y, Z). Instead of relying on colour or contrast, this technology generates a detailed 3D representation of surfaces, enabling the identification of features based on their physical structure. At the heart of 3D machine vision systems lie four key technologies: Stereo Vision, Time of Flight (ToF), Laser Triangulation (3D Profiling), and Structured Light. Stereo Vision harnesses the power of dual cameras to capture images from slightly different viewpoints, enabling precise depth perception through triangulation and providing a comprehensive 3D view of objects, particularly effective in unstructured environments. Time of Flight (ToF) technology measures the time taken for light to travel to an object and back, creating accurate point clouds for 3D reconstruction, ideal for real-time applications. Laser Triangulation (3D Profiling) utilizes lasers and cameras to capture detailed point clouds by measuring the distortion of laser beams projected onto surfaces, offering exceptional precision and resolution, especially suitable for scanning objects in motion. Structured Light employs projected patterns onto objects, capturing their deformation with cameras to generate high-fidelity 3D models, making it perfect for precise surface measurements and inspection tasks. Each technology presents unique strengths, catering to diverse needs in the realm of 3D vision applications. Here at OEM Automatic, we specialize in advising on the best 3D vision technology for your specific needs. Whether you're seeking guidance or interested in a demonstration, our dedicated Computer Vision Team is here to assist you. contact us today and unlock the potential of 3D vision technology for your applications. <img src="/-/media/logotypes-brands/basler_lowresolutionbig.jpg alt = "Basler - 3D" loading="lazy" style="float:left; margin-right:20px" width="100"> <img src="/-/media/logotypes-brands/photoneo.png? alt="Photoneo - 3D" loading="lazy" style="float:left; margin-right:20px" width="100"> <img src="/-/media/oemautomatic_uk/supplier-pages/suppler-logos/wenglor.jpg alt="Wenglor - 3" loading="lazy" style="float:left; margin-right:20px" width="100">

Sensing and Detecting

Control Panel Components

Motors

DC Motors and Gear Motors

DC motors are generally thought of for mobile applications or where low voltage is required for safety requirements. They can also excel in other areas of machine design thanks to ever increasing performance and control options from the likes of our Electromen DC motor drives. Brush wear used to be a big problem for DC motors when used in continuous duty applications, and although we generally advise using brushless or other motor technologies for high duties, longer brush life is possible in high quality motors like those offered from Crouzets DC Mind programme. With many gearbox options or motor only, OEM have a large selection as can be seen below. <strong>Common applications:</strong> <ul><li>Pump drive on portable machines - battery powered and high start torque. <li>Food machinery &ndash; low voltage to comply with HSE rules. <li>Low duty machine requiring high start torque - DC motors produce up to 3x nominal torque at start</li></ul>

Brushless Motors and Gear Motors

Commonly used where accurate control is required over speed and position, brushless motors (also known as BLDC, ECM motors or Electronically Commutated) have a multitude of options to suit most applications. With no mechanical brushes to wear they offer long life and can give great torque and speed performance when compared with similar physical size AC and induction motors. Available with or without internal control and offering many gearbox options, there is a good chance we can help with your requirements. <strong>Common applications:</strong> <ul><li>Labelling machinery - motor required to change speed quickly and accurately. <li>Long multiple motor conveyor system - motors with integrated drive and BUS system to cut down on factory cabling. <li>Continuous feed single conveyor in wet area - Low voltage brushless DC used for speed control and longevity. <li>Repeatable pre-set indexing system - motor and drive programmed to index accurately on a single input pulse. <li>Down sizing from full servo system to drastically reduce set-up and programming time.</li></ul>

Linear Actuators

Solenoids and Electromagnets

The humble solenoid coil is in its basic form a simple affair &ndash; yet through various design principles and ancillary components they can be adapted to perform many tasks. Reversible, latching, linear, bistable are all terms for solenoid design and performance characteristics. They can be used to simply operate a switch with an impulse of voltage and return when the voltage is removed, right through to 3 position twin coil solenoids used for positioning with detent (holding) force. Solenoids are also used in electromagnetic locks and security bolts. These can be power to lock or unlock and feature strong mounting options for security applications. A natural adoption of the technology is holding electromagnets. These are again designed on the solenoid principles and allow a magnet to hold a mass fastened, closed or indeed open with or without voltage as required. The many options from NAFSA can be found below, with typical applications being; <ul><li>Door locking and access control - electromagnet to hold door open or closed. <li>Food and medical machinery - solenoids as locking pins once a section is in place. <li>Factory automation - machine part holding electromagnets. <li>Vending machines - solenoids to open or lock access points, move vending flaps and guides. <li>Lifts and elevators - locking bolts as security and safety features. <li>Agricultural machinery - solenoid to open / close dispensing valves on casting machinery. <li>Automotive industry - multiple options for solenoid locks, holding magnets to lock doors.</li></ul>
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