As the requirement for flexible warehouses increases in line with increased and varied demand, facilities and plant managers are turning to automated guided vehicles (AGVs) more and more regularly. However, reliably sorting and retrieving goods over a 24/7 warehouse cycle, is a process with demanding power requirements.
Here, Michele Windsor from Ultralife distributor, Accutronics, explains why automated guided vehicles must be designed with the right battery in mind.
PR Newswire reports that the global AGV market is developing so quickly that it is projected to expand at a robust CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 12.4% during 2016 to 2024. The market stood at $838.3m in 2015 and it is forecast to reach a worth of $2.3bn by the end of 2024.
The modern warehouse, sometimes referred to as a mobile warehouse, has fewer humans in it than you think. A large part of the workforce are robots, with mobile operations often carried out by automated guided vehicles robots. These small robots race around, filling deliveries and preparing orders. However, to be efficient and achieve a high level of flexible working they must have adequate power supply - they can only be as flexible as their battery permits.
Mobile warehouses are like a synchronised swimming team, with multiple parts moving in unison, completely aware of every shift and continually reacting to each other.
The main problem is that many current battery technologies cannot achieve the required parameters to support an AGV’s continuous working hours. These requirements, notably long range, run time and the high-power discharge needed by an AGV, automatically removes non-rechargeable batteries from consideration.
Rechargeable batteries deliver the flexibility needed to fully implement a mobile warehouse and Ultralife’s range of Lithium iron phosphate batteries provide outstanding service life as the main drive battery for AGVs.
The range covers eight batteries from 12.8V, 7.5Ah (96Wh) to 12.8V, 100Ah (1.28kWh) and each battery incorporates a sophisticated battery management system (BMS) which protects against over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, short-circuit and over-temperature, safeguarding the battery if abused. However, if you’re unable to find a standard battery to fit your AGV design, Accutronics also offers custom built batteries to suit your needs.
Rechargeable batteries are key for making AGV backed warehouses a success, as they require less human intervention than replaceable batteries. Paired with a recharging system that auto plugs and self regulates, AGVs will contribute to the first humanless warehouse in the near future.
AGVs can also help businesses meet their environmental and carbon emission reduction objectives. Ingo Witte, general manager of the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) in the Port of Hamburg, which has recently invested in lithium-ion AGVs commented: “With the lithium-ion AGV, we are making a contribution to preventing air pollution in Hamburg. Taking the relationship between energy used and actual engine output, they are three times as efficient as their diesel-driven predecessors.”
With suitable rechargeable batteries in place Mobile AGV robots will not only help redefine working in warehouses but also push the boundaries of what can be achieved with a mobile workforce.
Synchronised swimming teams spend hours training but humans must eat, sleep and rest. By adopting AGVs with rechargeable batteries your synchronised spectacle can be continuous and unending.