Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have been a useful piece of robotic machinery in warehouses and fulfillment centers across just about every industry since the 1950s. They are far from being a new invention but they have advanced greatly in the time that they have been around.
In fact, they have advanced so much over the years that they have even spawned off various iterations of the traditional design.
This is where the Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) comes into play. While AGVs serve their purpose well, they are not as advanced, flexible or cost-effective as AMRs.
Both of these machines serve the same role; to move objects from one place to another with limited human interaction.
Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that they do things a bit differently…
AGVs have rather limited functionality in regard to the paths they can take to complete any given task.
The navigation system on an AGV can be thought of as a bit like a train. It can get everything from Point A to Point B quickly and efficiently, but in order to do this, it needs rails to guide it as it cannot freely navigate.
Similar to a train on a set of tracks, the AGV must be guided along a premapped course via software paired with various sensors onboard the AGV as well as attached to magnetic strips that must be physically laid on the ground.
Because of this, AGVs are not very flexible when it comes to introducing new routes and picking orders. Making such changes would require the machines to not only be reprogrammed but also all of the physical elements of their navigation process would need to be rearranged. Doing so can cost businesses time and money as they rush to implement the new routes.
In comparison, an AMR is capable of navigation without any physical tracks to guide it. Instead, the AMR relies on maps that the software onboard the machine creates as it learns the layout of the floorspace or from maps that have been manually uploaded to the system. In this way, an AMR navigates itself in a similar way to how a car uses GPS to guide the driver where it should go to get to their destination efficiently and without obstruction via a pre-loaded map and address the driver wants to arrive at.
The best part about the way the AMR navigates in comparison to the AGV is that if it’s cameras or sensors notice an obstruction in its path such as a person or another piece of machinery, the onboard system can immediately redirect the machine along a different path at a moment’s notice.
Simply put, AMRs are much more flexible than their AGV counterparts due to the fact that their navigation system is more fleshed out and does not have to follow a set route in order to complete its tasks.
AGVs on the other hand, they require a very strict and predetermined route… and altering the physical aspects that go into mapping this route for the AGV can be a bit disruptive to business and potentially cost a bit of money through lost time to make it happen.
AMRs require only a few tweaks to their software to completely change the course that the AMR is used to following. And the best part is that making this change can be done on the fly so long as you have but a few minutes to spare.
This ability alone can easily free up time of your employees to focus on more pressing matters around the warehouse.
Yes, AMRs contain more advanced technology than your typical AGV. And you might think that this is reflected in the cost of the machine.
However, even with all of the latest tech onboard, AMRs are still usually much cheaper upfront and in the long run when compared to an AGV.
The main reason for this is that an AMR doesn’t require all of the magnetic strips, wires and other critical components that an AGV needs in order to put it to work. Honestly, an AMR will usually pay for itself with a quick ROI, most of the time, within the first few months of service. So even the upfront costs balance themselves out in a short period of time.