Compartmented AGV Delivers Sequenced Assembly Productivity

Creform® Corporation (Greer, SC) has introduced an adaptation of its modular/custom-crafted lineup of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) technology with a compartmented vehicle ideal for sequenced assembly operations, kitting materials transport, or for protective conveyance of fragile, delicate components. The simple to design, build and install AGV units are configured using the Creform® System of plastic-coated steel pipe, joints and accessories to construct the compartmented structure, as well as a Creform modular bolt-on AGV drive system. The simplicity of construction allows end users to specify design and operational criteria to tailor the vehicle to application requirements providing an economical solution to a multitude of material handling challenges.

First, the compartmented structure was designed and constructed featuring 16 plastic, open-ended containers per side of the cart, totaling 32 individual compartments. These box-style compartments help to prevent part to part damage, strategically group parts for kit assemblies, present parts in sequential order to match assembly requirements, and provide quick visual identification of inventory levels to maintain continuous material flow.

The flexibility of construction allows for custom building of these structures with sizes (height, width, depth) and configurations being determined by factoring optimal load capacities, inventory flow rates and maneuvering/floor space availability into the design criteria. To alter size and/or capacity, the plastic-coated pipe sections are easily cut to required plan lengths, and assembly is accomplished using either metal joints that clamp onto pipe sections via a threaded fastener, or plastic joints that are 'welded' to the pipes with an adhesive formula.

Once the desired upper vehicle structure is complete, finalizing the AGV construction consists of adding the drive module and power source. Creform offers drive units in load limits from 180 kg (396 lb.) up to 1300 kg (2860 lb.). Various drive options include 12 or 24 Volt power supply, single direction and bi-directional units, a parking brake along with braking equipped units for controlled, precise stops. Speeds of up to 164 feet per minute (50 meters/min) are available.

Typical Creform AGV installations only require the use of either adhesive-backed magnetic tape, or optical reflective tape for guidance and route layout. The tape is surface mounted on the floor and read by a cart-mounted sensor. Additional pieces of tape, aligned in specific patterns along the route, signal various functions such as turns, stops and speed changes.

Optional features for the AGV units included RFID communications, PLC control to monitor and regulate routes, warning lights and audible alarms, and anti-collision sensors. System lines can also incorporate 'opportunity charger' stations where carts are given a top off charge to the battery to minimize downtime and optimize performance.

Creform AGV's are also ideal for developing mobile assembly lines, providing adaptability and flexibility to the assembly process. Creform System components are also used to create conventional material handling structures, including push and trailer carts; flow racks; roller conveyors; hinged shelf carts; tilting racks; workstations; and rolling tool cribs. Creform Corporation partners with its customers in developing and implementing continuous improvement and lean manufacturing programs.

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Creform Corporation has developed a new and economical compartmented Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) that provides secure transport of components, kits, and subassemblies and is ideal for error-proof sequenced assembly operations, for protecting fragile parts, and to provide easy inventory monitoring and material flow.

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