News Blog

News Blog

Why Choose a Purpose-Built AMR?

1/14/2020 5:41:06 PM
written by Jason Berg, Motion Application Specialist
Logistics automation is fast becoming a focus for many manufacturing companies, warehouses, and distribution centers in today’s world.  Prior to the “COVID” era we were experiencing labor shortages and looking for ways to re task existing employees as hiring personnel for non-value added labor tasks such as material movement was becoming both expensive and difficult.  Fast forward to 2020 with a global pandemic in full swing we are still experiencing many of the same labor challenges, but are now also looking at ways to segregate assembly cells, move materials when employees must quarantine and create a “socially distant” workplace for employees that are healthy.  This has led to a high demand for AMR or Autonomous Mobile Robot technology to help accomplish these tasks. 

What is an AMR?
An AMR or Autonomous Mobile Robot is a vehicle designed to transport materials automatically through a facility without the use of guided wire, tape, reflectors, or magnets.  Its primary source of navigation is LIDAR.  In the past AGVs have been able to transport materials, but required a more costly infrastructure to be in place, which became cost prohibitive for many potential customers.  An AMR uses a combination of LIDAR scanners and in some instances 3D cameras to safely navigate through an existing facility with minimal infrastructure changes.

Why are AMRs Important?
As we touched on already, the introduction of AMR technology has opened the door for smaller and more diverse manufacturers to automate logistics.  Prior to this it was typically large fixed installations of AGVs in facilities where repetitive consistent material deliveries we made.  One company that is taking this to the next level on providing a complete AMR system is Autoguide Mobile Robots.  

Why Choose a Purpose-built AMR?
The Autoguide Mobile Robots are purpose-built AMRs as opposed to a retrofitted vehicle.  Purpose-built AMRs are designed and built from the ground up to be a robotic system.
Even the underlying vehicle is part of the integrated, smart machine.  Each component—motor, wheels, control system, sensors, safety system, and central computer—is engineered to work together as a high-performance material transport robot.
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In purpose-built AMRs, both the vehicle and autonomous capabilities are part of a single, integrated system distinctly designed for high-performance autonomous operations.
 
The Base AMR houses sensors and scanners in strategic, protected locations that optimize wide-field viewing capabilities. Dedicated compartments safely hold the central CPU and motor. The control systems for navigation and motion are carefully tuned to instantly respond to data from safety scanners that map the floor, monitor trailers and avoid obstacles.
 
This level of high-performance autonomous functionality isn’t possible with an RMV (Retro Fitted Manual Vehicle) such as a forklift with a aftermarket kit because the built-for-manual base vehicle was simply never designed to support autonomy. The motor controls and steering are inherently designed for manual operation, not the precise control loops of an autonomous system. The vehicle lacks integrated sensors so safety and navigation sensors must be attached in non-optimal positions and with less precision, thus requiring additional calibration.

Modular design, multi-tasking AMR
The Autoguide product offering is based on a modular design.  This provides a level of flexibility and consistency that is hard to match in the AMR world.  A single AMR can be configured as a pallet stacker, tugger, or high bay fork lift based on the needs of your facility. 
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Flexibility and long-term roadmap
Monitor and manage your whole fleet of cooperative mobile robots with SurePath fleet control software. This advanced software allows you to quickly change routes and machine duties to match the needs of your ever-changing facility. Do it from a single centralized control system–with no RFID tags, floor tape or individual vehicle changes to reconfigure like in a traditional AGV system.
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Automating your logistics
The area of mobile robotics technology is rapidly changing and we are seeing it become easier for companies of all sizes to take advantage of it.  At Hartfiel Automation we have developed a process to educate our customers and guide them step by step through an AMR project.  It is our goal to ensure that you are positioned for the next generation of logistics automation inside your facility.
If you would like more information, please visit our website at https://www.hartfiel.com/ or email me at jason.berg@hartfiel.com.