Creform Bi-Directional AGV Automatically Sequences Engines to Heavy Equipment Production Line

AGV with powered conveyor deck delivers two at a time 24x30" pallets of engines from a supermarket storage area to the production line then returns with empty pallets for reloading.

A Southeast U.S. based heavy equipment manufacturer had been delivering engines to its assembly line using forklifts.  The company determined a need to expand its manufacturing facilities and that determination included analyzing its material handling systems. In order to increase efficiencies and reduce the use of forklifts, it was considering using AGVs for moving the seven different engine models from a supermarket storage area to its assembly line.  The company needed to have the engines sequenced to the line based on production forecasts and most importantly, be automated, safe, reliable and operate with minimal personnel involvement.  

The manufacturer turned to Creform Corporation, Greer, SC. Creform, manufacturers of the Creform System of pipe & joints and AGV systems designed, built and installed an AGV system that basically is quite simple. The AGV travels back and forth in a straight line over a 700 foot route from the supermarket engine storage area to the production line and back as a transfer car. 

Creform’s first step was to design and custom build a fabricated steel frame cart that had the strength and durability to withstand the rigors of hauling two engines at a time over the 700-foot route.  The capacity of the AGV cart is 1,160 lb (525kg).  The overall cart dimensions are 32"H x 54"L x 45"W.

A Creform model FH-B350090 bi-directional drive unit attaches under the cart and has a maximum speed of 115fpm (35mpm). Each end of the vehicle independently follows a magnetic tape guidepath ensuring accurate and repeatable tracking.  This helps the AGV pull close to stationary conveyors for smooth and consistent load transfers.  The cart’s powered conveyor deck holds two 22" x 30" engine pallets that transfer off one side of the AGV for both loading and unloading cycles.  Maximum pallet weight is 500 lb (225kg). 

An optical communicator between the AGV and stationary conveyors controls the automatic load transfer function.  Powered mechanical load safety stops drop down during load transfers with the conveyor stations.  They also ensure AGV loads are securely held during travel.  Conveyor pallet position photo eyes for conveyor control can also detect the unlikely event of a load shift during transit.

A 24V electrical system powers the AGV using two 12V, 110AH AGM batteries and PLC controlled using the onboard HMI touch screen.  It has a 50-course, 128-command control programmed by PC or the HMI.  During operation, the AGV reads magnetic command tapes for direction and function control.  Floor positioned RFID tags provide command initiation and mark the stop positions along the course that have a unique address.

For safety, the AGV has a category 2 rating.  Onboard safety equipment includes front and rear laser obstacle scanners with 16 settable zones, E-stop buttons at each end, a safety light and audible warning.

The supermarket’s engine storage area has seven pick up points, one for each of the seven different models.  An associate transfers a sequenced engine from storage to a pallet on the AGVs powered conveyor via an overhead hoist.  That person is outfitted with a remote control key fob transmitter that has buttons for each of the seven AGV pickup locations.  Once the AGV is loaded with two engines and the home button pressed, it is released to travel to the powered conveyor that feeds the engines to the power train assembly line.  After the AGV transfers its two engines, it indexes forward to an adjacent conveyor that is holding empty pallets transferring them aboard and returning them to the storage area ready for the next key fob command. 

The new system is successfully in place, operating and delivering engines to the assembly line on a JIT basis.  It is also meeting the objective of eliminating the need for manned delivery vehicles in this area of the plant.

The Creform System is used to create an array of material handling and efficiency enhancing devices, including push, special purpose and trailer carts, flow racks, roller conveyors, workstations, and AGV/AGCs. The Creform System is a proven component in continuous improvement and Lean Manufacturing programs, and the company partners with customers in developing and implementing these programs.    

                                                                                                      Creform is a registered trademark of Yazaki Kako Corporation and Creform Corporation

For further editorial information:

Rol Kracoe 

Kracoe Szykula & Townsend, Inc.

PH 248-641-7500 

FAX 248-641-4779 


Creform Corporation

P.O. Box 830

Greer, SC 29652-0830


Fax 864-877-3863



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