When Are AGVs A Cost Effective Alternative To Operator Driven Fork Trucks?
When you need to move heavy loads without an operator, laser guided forklift type AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicles) are a suitable choice. They offer all the benefits of an operator driven fork truck, but can operate without taking a break. They also perform certain repetitive functions more safely, freeing up your employees for other work. While these benefits are undeniable, operator driven fork trucks are still popular as they remain affordable, reliable, and flexible. So how can you determine when to make the switch to an AGV — and if you should make it at all?
When comparing the two options, it’s critical that you compare their potential costs to the potential benefits you’ll receive. Here are some of the factors you should keep in mind.
In What Situation Would an AGV Be Better Suited To Your Business?
As AGVs can perform without human intervention or taking a break, it could help streamline your current workforce and make it more lean and productive. This especially applies when your workers are spending hours performing repetitive tasks that could be automated, key workers could be freed up for more important tasks further down the production line.
If your workers are falling behind on tasks that an AGV can undertake outside of standard working hours, introducing one or more into your production line will free your workers up to focus on other tasks that a machine couldn’t fulfil — such as customer facing interactions, flexible thinking or tasks requiring the human eye.
Factories and warehouses experiencing extreme temperatures or exposure to hazardous materials and noise levels can be unsafe. Areas with lowered or narrow and awkward walkways can also be challenging for an operator driven forklift truck to navigate.
If this is reality for you, it might be a good time to automate or upgrade your pallet transport with an AGV with safety cameras, lasers and sensors. Object detection and anti collision devices will help to create a safer workplace, reducing your insurance costs and what you’d normally spend on employee safety equipment and training.
At What Point/Level Of Production Do AGVs Become A Good Investment?
It’s challenging to determine exactly when you should invest in an AGV or what it will cost you. You’ll need to know what payload capacity, stocking/lifting height, battery and charging system you’d prefer to use. You’ll also need to decide how many machines you need and what they’ll be used for. Your installation costs will be low if the AGVs will operate on a defined path, but will increase if you need more optional extras that are considered luxuries. Many AGV brands include traffic control within their price. However, adding lithium charging stations, marshalling detection scanners, blue spot front warning beams, equipment interface IO boxes or slippery floor tyres will often increase your costs.
You’ll need to select software that will operate and manage the forklifts and how they’ll navigate themselves. Most AGV brands will include this in their quotation. However you should also consider the costs of installing and commissioning the AGVs as well as training the right people to use them, as well as any future maintenance and repair costs the AGVs might incur.
The best way to find out if it makes financial sense to switch to an AGV is to partner with an expert in forklift AGVs for businesses like yours. Webster Griffin can help you determine this so you make an investment that will benefit your business and doesn’t incur more costs than you can handle. Contact our team today for more information.
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Automated Guided Vehicles