In a previous post, I wrote that cold storage is one area that people don’t think of when it comes to AGV usage. Cold is not alone. While Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have proven their worth by automatically transporting loads within a production or distribution environment, that isn’t all they can do. There are many areas where these autonomous mobile robots can be used to bring value to your operation. In our most recent whitepaper, ‘Five Unexpected Applications for AGV Success’, we outline several ways where AGVs can bring you value. Next up: Automatic trailer loading.
Automatic Trailer Loading
Automatic Trailer Loading (ATL) extends a mobile automation solution beyond the four walls of a facility and into trailers at the dock doors.
The dock area used to be considered a hand off point to load a trailer. It’s where automation ended and people took over. Pallets or other containers would be delivered to shipping lanes either manually or using automation such as AGVs. From there, workers would use forklift trucks to load items onto a trailer.
With AGVs, the same automation technology that picked the product from the distribution or production area can automatically load that same product onto a trailer. Automatic truck loading isn’t a new technology. (Egemin Automation demonstrated it at the CeMAT trade fair in 2008: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGzG39_5fiI). ATL uses an AGV to automatically load a trailer with pallets or other unit loads of virtually any required loading pattern, including mixed-orientation patterns and “pin wheeling.”
Its all about the Mast
A key component of the AGV that allows the same AGV to pick product from racking and then to load product into the truck is the mast. In this case bigger (or taller really) isn’t better.
An AGV that can both pick from rack and load into a trailer uses a staged mast. This type of extension mast is actually two, three, or four separate mast pieces attached to extend (like a “hook and ladder” fire truck). This allows the same AGV to extend the mast to pick product up to four levels high in multi-level rack storage. This same machine can then transport it into the trailer at your dock door.
For added efficiency, these AGVs can automatically load up to four pallets at a time into the back of a trailer, speeding up the trailer loading process.
You can read about other unexpected Applications for AGV Success in our next blog post, or, for more instant gratification, download the entire whitepaper, ‘Five Unexpected Applications for AGV Success’, here.
AGVs can bring fast ROI and efficiency to an operation in many more areas than you may realize. And as technology advances, the options will continue to grow for making AGVs an integral part of your supply chain operation.
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