Servo Drives for AGVs
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are being used by every industry from warehousing to healthcare to improve operational workflow and reduce labor costs. While still in their infancy, AGVs promise infinite potential, from use as a trolley in a manufacturing setting, to more sophisticated uses, such as military and transportation logistics.
In this article we will discuss what AGVs are, and what benefits do servo drives for AGVs provide.
What are AGVs?
Let’s define what AGVs are, and discuss why they are being purchased in mass by numerous Fortune 500 companies. AGVs are self-guided vehicles (some consider robots) that rely on wireless routing, video, and proximity sensors to navigate their environment. AGVs provide high efficiency to reduce energy costs and increase battery life. They also integrate IoT technology, which makes them auditable for logistics management.
With available data analytics and tracking, manufacturers can constantly refine manufacturing processes to save money and keep better track of inventory. This reduces shrinkage and allows for more accurate inventory management. Primarily, however, AGVs don’t require lunch breaks, vacation time, and other employee downtime that cost businesses money.
AGVs are also more efficient than most conveyor systems for several reasons. For one, the modular design of AGVs allow them to scale to match demand as it increases. The modular design also makes them incredibly simple to maintain and install. Furthermore, being controlled via a warehouse ethernet or IP system allows AGVs to follow through with operations with pinpoint accuracy.
So why are finding the right servo drives for AGVs so important? The answer can be found in their simple modular design and their rate of efficiency. Say goodbye to lengthy breakdowns on conveyors and the need for preventative maintenance.
How Servo Drives Power AGVs
Given the increasing demands of AGVs for automated factories, companies now require systems that can match the complex technical and logical demands of their operation. In a traditional setting, AGVs would simply operate like another conveyor, transporting products from one end of the assembly line to the other.
Nowadays, AGVs require intelligent components that can sync to existing legacy operating systems and complete complex tasks, such as navigating sharp turns, moving at high speeds, and even avoiding obstacles and rerouting. This means that AGVs require a motor and controller able to match these requirements.
Using modern fieldbus protocol, high current output, and compatible ethernet firmware, servo systems are able to match both the physical and precision requirements of AGV workloads.
Oftentimes, integrated servo systems can be located in the wheel of an AGV. The role of the servo motor and servo drive is to power the AGV and also guide the AGV along the desired path.
Servo drives convert low level signals from the controller into high power current and voltage in order to adjust the motion of the motor. After feedback from the sensors is relayed back to the controller, the servo drive will also make adjustments to the AGV based on the weight of the payload and the current speed of the AGV to ensure that proper handling and control is maintained.
To truly understand this subject, it’s best to discuss what benefits servo drives provide for AGVs.
5 Benefits of Servo Drives for AGVs
1. Flexible Design
The dynamic capabilities of AGVs require a flexible design that can scale to any purpose or workload. The simplistic design of servo drives for AGVs makes them particularly attractive in this regard.
For example, due to the operating environment, the healthcare industry often requires AGVs with a compact design. This means that the motors and drives need to be well integrated to save space.
The compact design of servo drives is perfectly suited to integrate with both smaller and larger AGVs. The ability to incorporate brushless motors and epicycloidal reduction gears in a single axis, affords room for additional components such as larger batteries, better HMI, and additional sensors.
These often include:
- Larger batteries
- Better HMI
- Additional sensors
At ADVANCED Motion Controls, you can choose between servo systems that can integrate with any AGV size or workload profile. With our selection of servo amplifiers, you oftentimes don’t even need to swap out the existing servo motor or feedback if retrofitting your system.
2. Expert Precision
Nowadays, AGVs are no longer used to simply transport boxes from point A to B on a straight path. AGVs must be able to carry heavy loads up uneven terrain and navigate difficult paths that can be hundreds of feet long.
Servo systems are able to match these requirements using the precise control of their closed loop, negative feedback response. This enables servo powered AGVs to accomplish linear and rotary motion on a precise path along any axis.
Using these feedback sensors, servo systems can adjust the wheel position and speed needed to move the AGV up hills or make turns. Furthermore, these sensors can detect any collisions or forces impeding the vehicle’s progress and adjust the power requirements to compensate.
3. Highly Efficient
Servo drives are also able to match the power requirement of most AGV load profiles. In fact, many modern AGVs can haul payloads of up to five tons or more.
Servo drives can handle such high payloads by operating under high current for minutes on end. Using modern efficient components, servo drives can transmit huge amounts of power without overheating. Coupled with the servo drive’s precision, this steady current also allows for the smooth handling of heavy loads.
4. Interconnectivity and the IoT
Most servo controllers are compatible with today’s IT solutions. With a configurable actuator and intelligent servo drive design, AGVs can be controlled and tracked through your tablet or office computer over your existing network. This makes troubleshooting and diagnostics a breeze.
The drives and servo controller can be accessed through your system to create decentralized adjustments to products and deploy updates and solutions quickly.
At ADVANCED Motion Controls, many of our servo drives also come equipped with safety features such as Safe Torque Off (STO) to ensure the full safety of our products.
5. Easy Installation
Finally, the modular design of servo drives for AGVs allows for quick plug-and-play access. No longer do you have to spend months constructing conveyor systems or programming AGVs for simple operations.
Simply hook up your servo controller to your legacy application and begin. This also allows for easy maintenance and scalable solutions that can be deployed as needed.
There’s no denying that AGVs will soon become a standard component of automated work facilities. At AMC, we are dedicated to providing fast and intelligent solutions that allow you to scale your products as needed to save money and stay lean. With our intelligent and advanced servo systems, you can construct AGVs that are able to meet the demands of the modern, technological age.