In a previous blog, we discussed several automation ideas for you to consider as you look at increasing efficiency, lowering injuries and reducing labor costs. Now, we will take a closer look at a couple of additional cost-lowering ideas.
Automatic Guided Carts (AGCs) or Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) – Due to the increase in competition, the price on these units has lowered dramatically over the last few years. If you have a routine task that is done every day, or an assembly line process that requires a repetitive movement, AGCs or AGVs should be considered.
Let’s say your company generates a lot of cardboard. Typically, cardboard is conveyed or transported to the baler using a pallet jack or tugger train. Have you considered using an automated vehicle to perform this function? Since it is a repeatable task, an AGC or AGV could move the cart train to the baler or move a dumper to a dump station.
Maybe you have a product that requires progressive assembly. Automated vehicles can work together, moving this product from each work station and eliminating the need to manually lift or transport the product until it is complete. These automated vehicles can be fitted with a lift table so employees are always working at an ergonomic height. Perhaps you just want to deliver pallets from one end of the building to the other, allowing your workforce to stay on the receiving dock. AGVs can do the transportation function automatically.
Imagine if you coupled an AGV or AGC with a vertical storage unit. What is the relationship between this equipment? In a production environment, you could store all your components in a vertical lift storage device and take up less floor space. You could then transport the product or possibly your set up tooling to the work cells using an AGC. In a distribution center, you could store all of your smaller or higher-cost items in a vertical lift and use an AGC to transport directly to the packing area. The operator always works at an ergonomic height, therefore increasing efficiency as they stay on task.
Recently, I was at a customer site that had AGCs in use. It was interesting to see the employees’ interaction with the equipment. It was like the AGCs became a friend that the employee could count on to always deliver their work on schedule and in the same spot, allowing them to constantly be productive.
As you start looking at ways to move product throughout your facility, consider options other than conveyor or powered industrial trucks. Automated vehicles and vertical storage units may provide a more efficient, more ergonomic or better labor-saving option. Besides, it is really impressive to see these items in action, not only adding value, but promoting a visually-effective warehouse.
If your operation is in need of a change, let’s discuss options that will benefit your business.