The integration of robotics in different forms, such AMRs or AGVs, has become a real standard in the industrial and logistics worlds. Robots are now able to carry out automated tasked quite autonomously.
Collaborative robots now accompany operators either to simplify their day-to-day tasks, to spare them the effort of carrying heavy loads or to automate intralogistic flows. In the supply chain world, there are two distinct types of equipment in use, Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). But how do they differ? What are their characteristics? And which should you choose for your needs?
The AMR, an effective, easily integrated solution
The AMR is a completely autonomous solution capable of carrying out tasks what are low value-added tasks for humans on its own. Entirely programmable, controlled in real time by its own software package, and often supervised by a Warehouse Management System (WMS/WCS), the AMR can move freely around a complex environment and quickly adapt to any changes in it.
A 360° laser scanner constantly analyses its surroundings and identifies any obstacles. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the autonomous mobile robot is capable of moving around a mapped environment, avoiding people and machines and also any other items that might find themselves in its path. This real-time navigation system guarantees safety whilst providing real gains in productivity in the performance of its tasks.
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What are the main advantages of using AMRs?
Order picking and preparation, line-side parts delivery, transfers of goods: the AMR is a safe solution perfectly adapted to the challenges of the industry of the future.
The autonomy of these smart logistics robots makes them a strategic item of equipment, particularly useful for optimising intralogistic flows within a company. Their on-board sensors and smart software enable them to select the shortest path from point A to point B. That makes them an excellent way of transporting parts in manufacturing industry, but also items in mass retail or e-commerce settings. Operators, order pickers and storekeepers can therefore be spared time-consuming toing and froing, leaving them free to concentrate on the value-generating tasks in their work.
Finally, certain AMRs also feature a "follow-me" mode, designed to enable them to accompany workers and facilitate the performance of more complex operations such as order preparation or handling.
AMRs are therefore versatile robots capable of adapting to a wide range of situations.
AGVs, a mature technology that has proved its worth
Unlike AMRs, AGVs can only travel on tracks or guided by wires or markers in the floor (sensors, magnetic tapes, etc.). They can require substantial and costly changes to infrastructure and their movements are restricted to a predefined and relatively difficult-to-alter path. Since AGVs cannot deviate from their predetermined path to avoid obstacles, their use requires that certain safety measures be taken. AGVs nevertheless still have a degree of autonomy since they can be used without the systematic intervention of a human operator.
In fact, beyond these differences, AMRs and AGVs are in fact complementary systems perfectly capable of cohabiting in the same environment, as you will learn from this article on the automation of line-side parts delivery.
In what situations are AGVs used?
The autoguided vehicle, whose uses have been widely tried and tested in many industrial processes, is a robot designed to be used under the control of an operator. Its degree of autonomy means it can effectively replace a forklift truck, or be used to handle horizontal or vertical loads. Often AGVs operate in departments transferring incoming goods from suppliers or they are used to transport pallets. In this case, they are often referred to as automatic trucks.
Sherpa Mobile Robotics can help you with your robotisation plans
Do you want to increase automation in your company or make the move into Industry 4.0? Don't hesitate to contact Sherpa Mobile Robotics - they can help you to put your plans into practice. We operate all over Europe studying customers' needs and expectations. Our collaborative mobile robots are well-known on the market for their reliability and the numerous innovative possibilities they offer. Smoothly integrated into your process and easily (re-)programmed, mobile robotics can give you the competitive edge.