Bidirectional Material Handling Vehicle Accommodates Tight Spaces

A report from Creform indicates that space restrictions need not prevent manufacturers from automating material handling applications.

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A report from Creform indicates that space restrictions need not prevent manufacturers from automating material handling applications. The company recently developed an automated guide vehicle (AGV) that shuffles in-process components among three pickup points and 22 dropoff locations at an automotive powertrain assembly plant.

The bidirectional AGV is a one-vehicle system incorporating a powered conveyor deck that holds pallets of powertrain components. The conveyor accepts the load from one side of the unit and dispenses from the other. Its pallet is approximately 24" × 24" (600 × 600 mm) and weighs as much as 600 lbs (272 kg) for robust handling.

The system, Creform drive unit model FH-B350090, is mounted to a customer steel frame for strength and durability. Each end of the AGV follows the guide path independently to ensure accurate and repeatable tracking in space-restrictive areas. This design is also said to ensure alignment so that the conveyors transfer loads smoothly and consistently. The unit can travel as fast as 84 fpm (35 mm/min.) and can carry as much as 1,984 lbs (900 kg).

The unit is PLC-controlled and features two human-machine interface (HMI) touch screens that an associate can swivel to ensure access in space-restrictive areas. The AVG can use a custom course-control program and floor-positioned RFID tags for routing, speed changes and obstacle sensor view changes. The system also uses a peel-and-stick magnetic tape guide path that is easily and quickly installed, changed or repaired.

The 24-V power pack is side-mounted to the vehicle for opportunity charging. There is no need to cut into the floor for charging plates. Safety equipment includes front and rear laser obstacle scanners with 16 settable zones; E-stop buttons at each end of the AGV; and safety light and audible warning. The unit features “photo eyes” for conveyor control and detection of unexpected load shifts during transport. Loads are secured during travel by load safety stops, which are simple, spring-loaded mechanisms that are pushed down manually for load transfers to offboard conveyor stations.

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