Warehouse Automation

Automated Guided Vehicles and Autonomous Mobile Robots

Autonomous robots are a new and innovative way to automate your facility. They can increase productivity and safety and while reducing wasted time spent walking around the space looking for items. JR Automation has years of experience integrating automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) into warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Learn more about AGVs and AMRs below.

AGVs and AMRs look and work similarly, but there are key differences in the ways they work. AMRs are better able to work in more complex environments and can work safely around people. An AGV might be the best solution if you need the robot to travel straight along preprogrammed routes for long distances.

An AGV is a mobile robotic vehicle that follows one or more waypoints to complete its task within a distribution center, warehouse, manufacturing facility, or other large industrial space. Typically AGVs travel along a fixed path, usually on wires or a magnetic strip, and use basic sensors for obstacle avoidance. These automated vehicles need clear pathways and a predetermined area to work efficiently. There are different types of AGVs, including:
  • Automatic guided carts (AGCs)
  • Forklift AGVs
  • Unit load material handlers
  • Towing AGVs

AGVs navigate using lasers, magnet strips, wires, or other methods to move along a predetermined path. This automatic robot has basic sensors that provide feedback about its position relative to waypoints and obstacles it may come across along its way. However, they do not have the autonomy to move around freely if their path is blocked.

An autonomous mobile robot (AMR) differs from an AGV in that it can move freely within an operating environment. AMRs use encoders, LiDAR, 3D vision, and other sophisticated sensors to navigate freely within a workspace, not limited to fixed wires or magnetic strips. AMRs can be carts, forklifts, towing AMRs, and load handlers as well. Multiple AMRs paired with fleet management software can operate collaboratively within a warehouse environment, dynamically assigning tasks throughout the fleet. AMRs can sense obstacles and navigate around them, utilizing machine vision technology for navigation and object detection.

AMRs differ from AGVs primarily through their ability to deviate from a fixed route. The more advanced perception systems and custom software that comes with AMRs greatly increase the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of deployment by eliminating the need to significantly modify the workspace. AMRs can create a digital map of their environment to learn the difference between fixed and variable obstacles, and even operate safely alongside humans. Engineers can program a fleet of AMRs to divvy up tasks based on the proximity task type, battery, current operation, and other programmable factors to expedite task completion. Fleet management software tracks the positions of the AMRs and can automatically reassign tasks if an AMR finds itself blocked or in an error state. The best applications for AGVs and AMRs include material handling, machine tending, product sortation, cleaning, and more.
The benefits of integrating AGVs in your warehouse are that they provide a more efficient workflow, making it possible for employees to perform tasks simultaneously. While there is a difference in flexibility between AGVs and AMRs, they save labor costs by automating repetitive material handling tasks. Operators can focus on maintaining and guiding vehicles rather than menial picking. Another advantage of AMRs is that they work best in a fleet. They can work seamlessly, delegating tasks to each other to automatically load and unload pallets.

We have a wealth of experience optimizing warehouses for efficiency, productivity, and safety. JR Automation has long-standing partnerships with robotics vendors to provide custom solutions for our customers. We design warehouse automation solutions that ensure AGVs and AMRs work efficiently in your facility. JR Automation has the solution, whether your company needs to integrate an AMR within an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), an automated pallet exchange, or a moving assembly line. We help our customers leverage the total utility of AMRs and AGVs in their processes to reach high returns on that initial investment and boost productivity.

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