A manufacturer and distributor of heavy equipment maintenance parts in central Indiana needed to reduce labor dependence and operating costs and increase safety by removing lift truck traffic in the personnel-crowded manufacturing half of their facility.
They came to Associated looking for an optimized Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) system to connect their 5 manufacturing line pallet outputs with the outbound shipping dock and warehouse put-away. In their previous operations, a forklift would pick up pallets (mostly double stacked depending on stability) from the manufacturing line stretch wrappers and transport them to the DC side of the facility, returning empty to pick up another pallet.
This operation required 2 lift trucks with operators over 3 shifts, 5 or 6 days per week. At the manufacturing end of the transport route there were personnel constantly moving around and across the main aisle, interspersed with the lift truck traffic.
The primary challenges to finding the optimum AGV solution for this client is the pallet rate, the tight confines and turning requirements and constant presence of personnel in the manufacturing pick-ups area. A peak of 60 pallets per hour are produced from 5 assembly lines in varying rate mixes with an aisle width of 13’-6” and a dead-end aisle requiring a 180° turn around.
The solution to this set of requirements is a pair of automated tugger vehicles with powered transfer carts carrying 6 pallets per trip. The selected tugger was a Raymond Courier 3020, vision guided vehicle (VGV) because of the:
- + Ease of set-up
- + Flexibility of rerouting
- + And safety sensor system
Associated added Motor Driven Roller (MDR) pallet conveyors at each of the 5 manufacturing stops to receive pallets from the client’s stretch wrapping equipment, buffer pallets between pick-ups and manage the automated transfer of pallets to the powered roller transfer carts. At the drop-off end, Associated provided and integrated a bank of receiving pallet conveyors to buffer pallets near the outbound docks for eventual rack storage or trailer staging by manned lift trucks in the warehouse.
Each VGV makes a complete circuit of the 5 pick-up locations, transferring 1 or 2 pallets at each stop. One pick-up is on the outbound leg of the trip and then, after completing a 180° turn, the other 4 pick-ups are on the opposite side of the aisle on the return leg. From the last stop, the vehicles travel approximately 500 feet from the manufacturing building to the warehouse drop-off point.
As a result of the implementation of this system, the client has eliminated approximately 200 lift truck trips per shift.
This reduced labor by 2 FTEs per shift and eliminated one lift truck from their inventory.
Maintenance on lift trucks was reduced by approximately 45 miles of lift truck travel per shift.
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