Whether it is a large enterprise or a small enterprise, internal logistics automation is a difficult problem that often needs to be faced. If you can automate material transportation, why waste staff resources? Why not invest staff resources in higher value work? By automating material transportation, companies can optimize productivity and schedule delivery more effectively, thereby reducing bottlenecks in internal manufacturing.
Until recently, the traditional automated guided vehicle system (AGV) remained the only solution for internal transportation automation. AGV is a commonly used equipment in large fixed installations. It is usually used for repeatable and consistent material delivery, and companies need to be able to accept large initial cost expenditures and long-term return on investment (ROI). Today, more sophisticated, flexible and cost-effective autonomous mobile robot (AMR) technology poses serious challenges to the AGV market. Although both AGV and AMR can realize material transportation, the similarity only ends here. The vehicle intelligence of
Fixed route vs intelligent navigation
AGV is extremely low, and can only obey simple programming instructions. If you want to navigate, you need to use wires, magnetic strips or sensors for guidance. When installing, you usually need to carry out a comprehensive (and expensive) equipment update. During this period, production may also be interrupted. AGV is limited to a few fixed routes, so if you need to modify the route later, you need to increase the cost and interfere with the production. The AGV can detect the obstacle in front of it, but it cannot go around, so once it encounters the obstacle, it can only stop moving forward until the obstacle is artificially removed.
In contrast, autonomous mobile robots (AMR) can use software to draw maps inside the factory or import factory building drawings in advance for navigation. This function is equivalent to a car loaded with GPS and a set of pre-installed maps. When the car sets people’s residence and work address, it can generate the most convenient route according to the location on the map. And this is exactly the same as the mechanism for the autonomous mobile robot to take parts after setting the position information. AMR can use data from cameras, built-in sensors, laser scanners, and complex software to detect the surrounding environment and choose the most effective way to reach its destination. It can work completely autonomously, and if there are forklifts, pallets, people or other obstacles in front of it, it can use the best alternative route to achieve safe bypass. As a result, it is possible to ensure that the wave of material transportation keeps pace, thereby optimizing productivity.
Autonomous operation makes AMR more flexible than AGV. AGV is limited to following a fixed route integrated into the factory facility, and this route is usually installed on the ground. This means that its specific applications will be very limited, and the AGV can only perform uniform transportation tasks throughout its service life. If the route needs to be changed, the cost is very high, and it will also cause production interruption, so it is not cost-effective.
AMR only needs simple software adjustments to change tasks. The same robot can perform a variety of different tasks at different positions, and can automatically make adjustments to meet changing environment and production requirements. The tasks performed by AMR can be controlled through the robot interface, or configured using robot fleet control software for multiple robots. The control software can automatically prioritize instructions, and can choose the most suitable for a certain item according to location and suitability. The robot for a given task. Once a task is formulated, employees do not need to spend time coordinating the work of the robot, and will be able to focus on high-value-added work and promote the company’s operational success.
The flexibility of AMR is particularly important in the modern manufacturing environment. In the modern manufacturing environment, if you need to change the product or production line, you must ensure agility and flexibility. AMR is highly adaptable to agile production of facilities of any size. If you need to move production units, or add new production units or processes, you can quickly and easily upload new building maps, or remap AMR on site to make it immediately competent for new tasks. This excellent performance allows companies to fully control the robot and its functions. As business needs evolve, workers can easily redeploy robots, enabling production optimization in a highly dynamic environment without being constrained by rigid AGV infrastructure.
High cost vs economical application
Although AMR contains much more advanced technology than AGV, in general, it is a more economical solution. AMR does not require wires, magnetic strips or costly modifications to the building infrastructure, so AMR starts faster and costs less, and does not cause costly production interruptions during deployment. Because AMR can be deployed quickly and easily, productivity can be increased almost immediately. The initial cost of AMR is very low, and its process optimization is fast, which can provide a very fast return on investment (usually less than six months). With the continuous growth of business volume, it is also possible to expand AMR applications at extremely low additional costs.
The modern manufacturing environment no longer relies on expensive and rigid traditional technologies, and it cannot afford the inefficient results of continuing to use human transportation materials, especially in today’s labor market that is in short supply. Autonomous mobile robots are absolutely superior to AGV in terms of flexibility, cost efficiency, return on investment, and productivity optimization. To some extent, all companies should ask themselves: Can we afford it without AMR?