Believe it or not, this year marks the SEVENTIETH anniversary of the AGV. Yep! A.M. Barrett invented the Guide-o-Matic "driverless vehicle" back in 1953. I can't really tell what his AGV is pulling here, but it looks pretty beefy, doesn't it? And look - there's even a safety bumper!
Fast forward to 2023 when I'm still a little surprised by how many factories still have AGVs following wire, tape, or paint around the floor. There's nothing wrong with that of course, but customers are starting to demand more, especially with the advent of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and all the intelligence that comes with those.
Why an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR)?
Most autonomous mobile robots are VERY smart. They learn the layout of your entire facility and automatically route around congestion. They can charge on their own and easily be re-tasked to keep your facility humming along at peak efficiency. Best of all, they can often communicate with your ERP/MES/WMS to ensure they work in concert with the rest of your production equipment. It's a match made in heaven!
...Or is it?
Why not an AMR?
Like, I said, AMRs are really smart, but their smarts comes at great cost. Not only for the robot hardware itself, but most AMRs require wireless connectivity, so at the least they can communicate with their fleet management software.
At the most, if you want your AMR fleet to 'talk' to the rest of your plant, someone fluent in both AMR language and your plant language(s) will have to make the systems communicate with each other. These integration projects can be very long and very costly. Speaking of these softwares, who's hosting the fleet management software and how will your IT guys feel about this new application they have to support?
Long story short, AMRs are overkill when your use case is simple. This is especially true in cases of lineside delivery or helping your pickers get more work done without having to work harder.
Why an AGV?
When you just want to move product from A to B or help your pickers become more efficient with some basic automation an AGV like Thouzer AGV can be a really good fit. Thouzer CAN use tape or paint to follow a fixed path around the plan, but our clients usually see more value when they use Follow Me mode to have Thouzer follow their operators around, OR Memory Trace mode to have Thouzer run completely autonomously.
If you're not familiar with Thouzer AGV, here's a quick overview:
- No wireless required
- No software required
- No programming required
- No complex integration projects required
- Deploy in minutes, not days/weeks/months
- Easy for your operators to use and re-use
- Generally much much cheaper than an AMR
While I'm still relatively new to robotics, I still think Thouzer is pretty slick and it's super easy to use. If you don't believe me, just watch the sixty second video below about Thouzer Follow Me. I made it just for you!
Full transcript of the video:
Here's one for the unbelievers!
This is a Thouzer Giant and I want you to see how easy it is.
Check it out - push the power button.
All right, he's warming up his brain.
Check it out - safety bumper, E-stop.
You can add other safety stuff like stack lights if you want.
It's made out of extruded aluminum so you can build up shelves or cabinets.
Nice big industrial casters.
Got some shocks up there AND the big fat knobby tires on the drive side which will make it roll over just about anything in your plant.
Oh, hello! Towing hitch? Yes sir!
1300 pounds + 600 on top.
You can pull about 2 000 pounds.
Let's walk around back to the beginning again, he should be done.
Oh there we go! Red button to make it follow me.
There we go.
It's following me, just like it's supposed to.
No pendant in my pocket, nothing crazy, no programming.
Just turn it on, hit the button and go.
When you're done - that's it, guys.
About JLC Robotics
JLC Robotics is an importer and distributor of Thouzer AGVs and related accessories. Our mission is to solve our clients' material handling challenges with robotic carts that are easy to use and provide a fast ROI. For more information, please visit https://jlcrobotics.com/.
Channel Sales Manager
phil (at) jlcrobotics.com