With a newly ISO-certified Area Management System developed by Daifuku (an AGV manufacturer) and UBIsense (an RFID technology company), warehouses can now realize double or triple throughput.
Earlier in the year, Modern Material Handling wrote about building the faster, safer AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle). Building a faster AGV with speeds up to 7.5 miles per hour was never an issue, but safety features were. Daifuku and UBIsense joined together in 2011 to tackle the safety issue.
The culmination of their research resulted in the Area Management System, which was ISO certified in February 2014. Designated work areas of a warehouse become self-contained “smart” sections, where the movement of people and lift trucks are “tagged” and monitored in real-time using RFID sensors to avoid collisions with the higher-speed AGVs.
Testing of these vehicles was done in a distribution center in Japan at maximum speeds of just under 5.0 miles per hour (most operate today at around 2.0-2.5 miles per hour) and showed that throughput would double at this higher speed.
“Speeding up vehicles has been discussed and is being done in some applications where there are long distances to travel down a relatively straight path,” said John Rizzo, Pak West’s Material Handling Product Manager. “I agree that the main issue is safety. Having said that, advances in laser bumpers and vision systems will make it possible to speed vehicles up in the future. However, making turns at 7.0 mph is a bit more problematic and will depend on load stability as well. Since vehicle count is dependent on the average speed on path, it is possible to reduce the vehicle count in a system and thus improve the ROI for the end user.”
Rizzo works with Pak West’s Pacific Conveyer Systems division, which is an official Valued Added Reseller of Daifuku AGVs. He consulted on the Macy’s project in placing Daifuku’s SmartCarts in their distribution center and says, “Macy’s could have saved 1-2 vehicles if we were able to travel at twice the speed!”