AGVs: An Alternative Way to Efficiency for Manufacturers and Supply Chain Partners in 2021

2021 AGV blog

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have been in the news frequently of late, given their assistance in keeping up with increased demands for consumer goods in the manufacturing and warehousing spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. Manual transport of merchandise is slowly becoming a thing of the past, as these automated material handling vehicles are taking over repetitive tasks and are able to move large loads in record time without human intervention.

When the United States first entered the COVID-19 quarantine in March 2020, delays in fulfillment and supply chains impacted the industry by a loss of an estimated $450 million in revenues. These losses are estimated to be recouped throughout the next few years, but not without some sharp thinking by industrial experts and the types of automation that equipment investments like AGVs provide.

These flexible AGVs are lending many profound advantages to industrial environments, and here are a few reasons why the material handling industry thinks so.

An increase in accurate material handling

Making your inventory count more reliable, AGVs allow you to program their movements in a way that avoid the mistakes made by human operators. The materials they pick will be more accurate, and companies can also reduce their shipping errors with an efficiently programmed AGV.

Human physical distancing is improved

During the pandemic, where social distancing is a must, AGVs win out on keeping workers apart from each other and limiting human contact. 

With the need for moving heavy loads to keep up with demand during COVID, these autonomous vehicles perform a variety of duties that allow workers to continue doing their jobs, while keeping a safe distance from each other.

Better warehouse space utilization

Because AGVs are so efficient in their management of inventory, warehouses and distribution centers can now utilize their premium unused space for additional goods capacity. Because some types of AGVs are smaller than typical warehouse equipment, they can quickly and efficiently navigate floor layouts for better space utilization.  

Utilizing additional space will prove critical as businesses are better anticipating increased demand for certain products in 2021.

Powering options for today’s AGVs

Although the battery charging strategy utilized by warehouses and distribution centers certainly impacts the best types of power options, in general there are two battery options most commonly used with AGVs: thin plate pure lead batteries (TPPL) and lithium-ion batteries.

TPPL batteries have an excellent battery life and support fast recharging. The HAWKER FLEX® and FLEXPAKTM Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) batteries prove to be virtually maintenance free and provide superior flexibility for frequent recharging. Moreover, their cycle life actually improves the more frequently they are plugged in. 

Lithium-ion batteries are increasingly being used in AGV fleets. They feature opportunity charging technology and allow for big boosts of energy with very little recharge time. The HAWKER FLEX® Li3 battery features a modular concept, allowing AGV users to scale their AGV operations for that valuable increased capacity in warehouse, parts, or distribution centers. Lithium-ion batteries also have a robust cycle life and allow for opportunity charging at very high currents.


Preparing for increased operational improvements in 2021

As manufacturers and supply chain managers push themselves to make more operational improvements in 2021, investments in more AGVs for their facilities are proving to be a favorable option with a strong ROI. 

Versatility with in-plant transport and improving inventory counts and worker safety, could make AGVs become the dominant force in 2021, propping up the operations of the modern material management and material handling industry.

To learn more about how TPPL and lithium ion batteries can improve your AGV fleet’s performance, contact your nearest HAWKERrepresentative by clicking here.

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