AGV vs AIV - which one should be picked and why?

2018-08-03
AGV vs AIV - which one should be picked and why?Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles, portable robots along with cobots (cooperative robots), these machines are no longer reserved to the science fiction world. Actually, they have become essential components of modern factories and warehouses. However, the latest generation of these machines have lain the first stone for their implementation in business fields such as Retail and FMCG.  

While countless debates about Industry 4.0 and smart factories have been here to stay globally, their impact on scouting out a key competitive advantage among companies is truly remarkable. One of these promise lands heads to autonomous vehicles. Their importance will be staggering soon. According to estimates by International Federation of Robotics (IFR), 56 000 smart machines will be employed in sectors other than production by 2020.  
Currently, one of the most flourishing cutting-edge solutions in intralogistics is “mobility”. It’s regarding unmanned vehicles, in other words. Until recently, they were also known as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV). It has been changed because of rising Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle (AIV), a new generation of AGV model. But what’s a basic difference between automation and autonomous machine? Is it possible to find something common for them? Let’s find out.  

Technology review
As technology, AGV has settled in intralogistics for donkey years. Due to many features - flexibility, navigation, power supply - you can come across many versions of Automated Guided Vehicle. It’s not enough, though. For example, in terms of given loads, they are divided in following models: Forklift AGVs, Load Transfer AGVs, Pallet Trucks, Assembly Line Vehicles, Light Load Transporters, Tugger AGVs.   From a technical point of view, automatic vehicle means it’s driverless. Powered by magnetic tape, barcode or laser scanner, this machine operates based on previously set paths and directions. Line-following technology is a core of navigation in this kind of unmanned vehicles. Because of that, they’re recommended to use in an environment that setting permanent paths for fleet vehicles as well as a lack of rapid changes in conveyor system are required. By the same token, a fundamental difference between AGV and AIV is a way of navigating. 

ES Gear - let’s design bespoken AGV for (just for now) heavy loads  
Many providers of intralogistics devices offer self-driving conveying machines. However, ES Gear - a smart vehicle developed and designed by engineers from Europa Systems - is one of a kind. Its innovation-led concept comprises of the following three principles:   -        Management and guidance of fleet vehicles -        Module construction -        Hybrid power supply   A big advantage of ES Gear is that it’s a bespoke solution. It can be modified and adjusted based on client needs. Additionally, ES Gear model is dedicated to horizontal transportation system of heavy loads (up to 2 tones). Thus, it allows supporting conveying various pallet units (Euro, industrial) as well as smaller ones (half-pallet, box, cardboard). Although ES Gear was tied to heavy-weight class, its maneuverability and speed might impress. The maximum speed of this machine is 60 metres/ minute.   But what’s the final outcome, a major benefit for business after harnessing this kind of machine? Let the facts speak for themselves. Recently, one of the European pharmaceutical companies tangible got to know how it really works. A full integration of AGV-driven fleet vehicles with conveyor belt line - which was responsible for load transportation on pallets - gave excellent results: 50% more efficient material flow at end-line plus time savings at 20%.  

AIV (Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle) is the next generation of AGV technology.
Whereas “autonomous” label is mainly attributed to AGV vehicles, navigation-related “smart” aspect of AIV has popped up as a novel category in “mobility” area. What’s more, AIV models are known as mobile intelligent robots too. What does it really mean?   They’re self-taught, basically. As autonomous machines, AIVs can immediately learn alternative routes in case of stumbling upon any obstacles. This definite distinction acknowledges other important assets by AIV model. When it comes to a level of technical flexibility in dynamic settings, this vehicle can closely cooperates with human workers and operates in a changeable  environment. So far, AIVs are dedicated to conveying modest and light loads - up to 100 kilos.  

ES Smart - AIV by Europa Systems  
In Europa Systems, AIV technology has been developing in cooperation with Omron Adept Technologies. ES SMART is an outcome of their joined forces. This vehicle is worth paying attention because of the following things. First, its act of adapting is simple and logical. It doesn’t require additional efforts to accustom itself for new paths or directions. Second, ES SMART determines its speed possibilities to properties of security zone of given area. Third, it’s based on 24/7 service. It’s pretty hard to beat ES SMART performance.   Similarly to ES Gear case, ES Smart, in turn, countered its moment of truth in one of European distribution centre. The challenge was reaching a considerable increase in the output between directly connected logistics chains such as picking, packing and shipping. After this implementation, efficiency went up to 20% and was achieved time savings of 60%.  

AIV brings innovations in intralogistics to the new level
It’s only a matter of time when people will use autonomous vehicles as frequent and ubiquitous as they have adopted smartphone on daily basis. These machine will become an integral part of a human lifestyle. And we’re the victims of this transition.   Currently, AIV-based vehicles can be found in some supermarkets and retail store. As a mobile assistant, they want to help you in the purchasing process or - as a smart courier - just deliver orders to your home. And it’s only the beginning.
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