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AGVs bring warehouses into the automation age

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article image AGVs bring warehouses into the automation age

Warehouses are large and complex environments that have many overheads. This could include labour costs, workplace health and safety compliance, and technology upgrades for equipment such as forklifts. To ease these pressures and try and rein in costs, warehouse owners have been investing in a range of new equipment, such as Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs).

With forklift operating costs in Australia among the highest in the world, Dematic’s new range of AGVs offer manufacturers and distributors the opportunity to significantly reduce materials handling operating costs and virtually eliminate the potential for workplace incidents involving conventional pallet trucks, forklifts and reach trucks.

AGVs are suitable for DCs moving full pallets and running more than one shift. Industries best suited to AGVs are cold storage, food and beverage, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), durables manufacturing, grocery and third-party logistics (3PL).

Receiving and putaway, full-pallet picking, pick-face replenishment, truck loading and end-of-line palletising are all ideal applications for AGVs.

The use of AGVs in a warehouse environment can produce a number of economic advantages:

Reduced damage to racking and the product

Manually operated forklifts can damage pallet racks if the forks or carriage slice into the pallet or product. The damage can happen multiple times a day, which over time, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An AGV can remove pallets from shelving with millimetres to spare and move perfectly to its assigned spot. AGVs are also unlikely to crash into shelving, or have pallets fall from its forks.

Reduced labour costs

AGVs are also designed to reduce labour costs. Using humans inevitably means sick days, fatigue and salaries, which all add to the cost of doing business.

Warehouse injuries are not uncommon and AGVs help reduce this risk. According to Safe Work Australia, 57 people have died in the transport, warehousing and postal industries up to November 20161.

Operational Reliability

Thanks to their powerful yet quiet electric motors, AGVs can be used continuously across multiple shifts and in a range warehouse and climatic conditions. Combined with their automated battery charging systems, downtime can be kept to a minimum.

For those that use AGV fleets, the entire network can be run via the Windows-based AGV Pallet Management System (PMS), a software solution that can accommodate standard wireless networks and be integrated into a Warehouse Management System (WMS) to ensure the highest possible operational output.

Dematic’s AGVs

The premier AGV solution for warehouses is Dematic’s AGV. A laser scanner on top of the AGV measures angles and distances to reflectors mounted on warehouse walls and on the racking. The vehicle then triangulates where it is in the warehouse and moves to its programmed position, with an accuracy of +/- 5mm.

Each AGV measures 3.83m high by 2.56m long. An AGV can lift up to a maximum height of 9m. It has three AC motors. One for drive, another for steer, while the final one looks after lift. The AGV is coordinated by a controller – the CVC600.

AGVs can charge at any of the 200mm-long x 250mm-wide charge plates. Once the primary battery goes down to a set percentage, it is forced to go to a charging plate to charge. When an AGV needs to go to charge but has an existing task from the controller (such as to pick up pallets), the closest AGV that does not have an order performs the task.


There are different price points depending on whether the AGVs are leased or purchased. For businesses running multiple shifts, the return on investment is rapid.

Dematic provides 24/7 post-sales support to clients including product maintenance and battery replacement.


For more information on Dematic’s AGVs click here:

1.http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/statistics/work-related-fatalities/pages/worker-fatalities

2.http://www.mondaq.com/australia/x/260802/Health+Safety/74m+and+27+hours+of+care+per+day+award+for+an+injured+employee  

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