Transitioning a Manual Line to Something More Automated

Guest Blog by MHI Member Company, Handling Specialty

A question that comes up a lot from the manufacturing industry is: How do I move from a manual assembly line to one which is more automated? And then: How do I do this without major interruptions and/or major cost to my assembly line? Is downtime in my manufacturing, assembly plant, or warehouse unavoidable in making the switch from a manual system to an automated one?

The answer is always the same: Employ an Autonomous Guided Vehicle or Manually Guided Vehicle System. It is the perfect solution for any application looking to make the move from a manual line to an automated one, and downtime due to interruptions are rare when you understand how an AGV or MGV system works with your existing plan.

If a company feels their current line operates too slowly, an MGV or AGV system will help in stream-lining their operations. Speeding up the process while keeping safety in mind should be built into the guided vehicle’s specifications during the technical sales discovery visits and carried through on the design/engineering of the application specific system.

Automatically Guided Vehicles now run along smart tape, following its path via laser guidence, no longer required to be embedded into the concrete floor of the facility, which immediately saves you time and money and costly downtime while your existing building goes through renovations. AGV’s also run to a pre-determined program written during the manufacturing process in coordination with the client’s needs, so the AGV’s hit your lines running.

A Manually Guided Vehicle is one guided by an operator who uses a hand-held control to move the unit through its steps. This controller can either be attached to the MGV by a cord or as a wireless remote control. In choosing an MGV you will experience the freedom and ergonomic advantages to moving product from one end of the line or facilty to the other without the use of bulky forklifts or difficult push carts.

MGV’s are often already equipped with most of the AGV hardware so you can translate from manual to automatic for very little money and minimum effort when a company decides to go fully-automated.

AGV’s and MGV’s can be deigned to operate in multiple directions: moving side to side, crabbing, diagonally, forward and backward, perform zero-radius turns and even include built in lifts to raise product to an ergonomical height to assist in the assembly process.

These automated systems can both be included into a company’s IIoT 4.0 plans, offering real-time analytics on each piece of equipment; to alert operators of cycle times and any PM requirements as well as failing mechanisms which require replacement within the equipment.

When a company updates their manufacturing or assembly facility with an AGV or MGV system, the benefits they will realize far outweigh the cost of upgrading, including the wear and tear employees experience using outdated and inefficient equipment to perform their duties.