The Problem: A heavy equipment manufacturer needed a more flexible assembly process to increase capacity without an increase or decrease in workforce. They were looking for technology that they could replicate to other plants.
The RedViking Solution: A fully integrated flexible assembly line solution, using Wingspan® battery-free AGVs with synchronized lifts.
Synchronized Automotive Assembly Lines
As part of a manufacturing technology initiative, our customer wanted to increase capacity, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and remove monuments on their heavy truck assembly line. They wanted a solution that could be phased in gradually and then replicated to other plants. The assembly line needed to be flexible, so they could quickly change their line without changing the size of their union workforce.
Flexible Assembly Line
Manufacturing leadership wanted to be able to quickly respond to changes in product demand. Their old line relied on a fixed conveyor system with floor monuments, so there was very little flexibility to increase or decrease capacity. At the same time, they’ve made a commitment to retain their workers, so their technology of choice wasn’t going to be chosen with the intent to lay anyone off.
Batteries Create Risk
Assembly line AGVs were the logical choice, but our customer’s management team was hoping to avoid a battery-powered solution. They’ve had past experiences where a line had to come to a halt so that AGV batteries could be replaced. They also knew that adding an onboard lift to an AGV created a further draw on the battery, as did their heavy payloads. Since this line must be able to run 24/7, unpredictable battery life created unacceptable risks.
Optimizing Floor Space
They were also looking for a solution that could be phased in gradually, without creating monuments or taking up extra floor space. Since a battery-powered AGV assembly line requires a fleet of spare AGVs and charging stations, traditional AGVs had another strike against them.
Speeds from 3 to 100 feet per hour
Finally, the AGVs had to be capable of moving from 3 feet per hour to as quickly as 100 feet per hour on the return path. Some of the traditional AGVs they considered ran at the lower speeds, and some ran at the higher speeds, but none of them could do both.
Inductively Powered Assembly Line AGVs
The customer chose battery-free AGVs that are inductively powered. With continuous power for transport and onboard lifts, Wingspan met their requirement for 24/7 operation. It gets phased in gradually, starting with only the AGVs they need now. And since the battery-free approach doesn’t need charging stations or spare AGVs, they aren’t losing valuable floor space. Also, battery-free AGVs can handle speeds ranging from 1 foot per hour to well over 100 feet per hour.
Synchronizing with Other Factory Automation
With onboard PLCs, Wingspan AGVs synchronize with each other and with other forms of conveyance. Two AGVs asynchronously enter the production area at a time and align parallel. They then receive the frame base from an overhead conveyor and lift the frame so that it’s ergonomically positioned. The operator uses a pendant to raise the lift until it passes its pinch point, then the synchronized lifts continue automatically. From here, the AGVs move in parallel to convey the frame to the next station.
Engineered, Integrated Solution
While traditional AGV companies will set up the positional system and start up the AGVs, RedViking does much more. We prove out every AGV in advance on our one-of-a-kind induction test track in Michigan. All of the controls and mechanics are designed and proved out before they’re delivered. Since Wingspan AGVs are intelligent systems, we can integrate them into your MES or get you started with Argonaut™ MES.