Have you ever wondered if those mobile robots would work in your warehouse? Technology innovations are pushing warehouse operations towards better efficiency and more effortless scalability. Warehouse automation strategies help improve process throughput, reduce operational costs, and offer a solution to the labor shortage.
Yet, every warehouse is unique in its layout, the number of employees, number of shifts, and material movement workflow. So how do you choose the best technology for your warehouse automation needs?
To help you pick the best mobile robots for warehouse automation, we had to analyze both options - Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) & Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR). Below you will find everything you need to know about these two solutions. It will help you make an intelligent decision when choosing between AMR and AGV robotics for your warehouse.
What is the Difference Between AGV and AMR?
The only thing that AGV and AMR have in common is they both move materials from point A to point B.
The main difference is in onboard intelligence. AGV robotics feature minimal onboard intelligence. You can program them, but they can carry out simple programming instructions. To navigate, they often need external installation and devices to define their route. For example, AGVs use sensors, lasers, cameras, wires, or magnetic strips along their delivery path. In case of an obstacle being in the way, the AGV will stop and wait for help.
Autonomous mobile robots operate in a completely different manner. To navigate a warehouse, AMR uses maps. They ship out with software that can map the warehouse on-site. You can also load your warehouse drawings into their software. AMR uses onboarded sensors, cameras, and laser scanners to navigate. AMRs have the power to make decisions and recalculate their routes. They then don't need to request help if there is an obstacle in their way.
Autonomous mobile robots offer the same benefits as AGVs but use different technologies. Since AMR vehicles can adjust their path in real-time, they are a more flexible solution.
On the other end, AGVs can transport much larger loads than AMRs. Therefore, if you store large loads in your warehouse, you should consider choosing AGVs over AMRs.
What are the benefits of using AGV Robotics in your warehouse?
AGVs are used in warehouses using manual carts, forklifts, and conveyor systems to move large loads and materials.
AGVs are an excellent pick if your warehouse logistics present fixed drop-off and pick-up points and a low number of routes.
AGV robotics can take many forms in your warehouse:
- Automatic guided under carts;
- Guided tow trucks ;
- Forklift AGVs.
Here is a video about the Toyota Center-Controlled Rider Automated Forklift an example of an AGV forklift.
While AGVs can stop if an obstacle is present, they will be waiting for help to resume their transportation task.
They are used in various industries like automotive, food & beverage, healthcare & pharma, packaging, paper & printing, production, and warehouse & distribution.
What are the benefits of using AMRs in your warehouse?
Unlike AGVs, AMRs are capable of independent decision-making. They don't always have to follow the same path from point A to point B. Autonomous Mobile Robots are capable of navigating around obstacles. This feature makes them an excellent fit for more complex warehouse layouts.
Due to their flexibility, AMRs are a good fit for distribution centers dealing with individual items and packages. As a result, the projections tell us that AMRs will grow with a CAGR of 45% between 2020 and 2026.
Are you worried about your high-traffic warehouse? AMRs can immediately stop when a human is in their path and recalculate an alternative route.
You can also consider using them if you experience issues with tracing materials and equipment. AMRs can be connected to an AMR management system. They can feed the data on labeled containers and packages they transport.
Finally, AMRs are better suited for projects with several destinations and long routes as they don't need extra installations (laser and magnetic navigation) as AGVs do.
How much does an AGV and AMR cost?
When choosing mobile robots for warehouse automation, we must not neglect the investment costs.
In general, for the moment, AMRs are more expensive than AGVs. For instance, an AMR could cost approximately $30,000 while AGV goes for roughly $15,000.
Yet, there are other cost-driving elements to take into consideration:
- Navigation technology
- Lifting height capacity (robotic forklift)
- Type of battery and charging system
- Fleet management system
- External installation required (AGV)
- And more.
Don't forget the cost of installation
If you want to use an AGV, you also have to consider the cost of installing and maintaining magnetic tracks and laser navigation. In big warehouses with complex routes, the cost of guidance system hardware can add up to a significant sum.
Is the investment in automatic material handling worth it?
Find a partner who will be able to plan your warehouse layout and engineer your infrastructure. In addition, they will show you if your investment is worth the cost.
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