AGVs drive productivity at Honda
In 1963, Honda opened its first overseas factory to manufacture motorbikes. Over the years, the company’s business model has evolved to become an OEM supplier and spare parts company. Parts are manufactured at various Honda plants then shipped to one centralized location for storage and distribution before going out to Honda dealers in the network. While consolidating storage and distribution into one centralized DC was a strategic business move, moving the parts presented a materials handling challenge.
Honda parts arrive at the distribution facility on a variety of carriers such as pallets, crates, trolleys and box pallets all with different dimensions. To handle the diversity, Honda chose a versatile automatic guided vehicle (AGV; Egemin Automation) system to transport product containers across inbound and outbound locations, and to intermediate storage locations.
Since the AGV system was installed, Honda has a more orderly transport of goods throughout the distribution center and a significant reduction in damaged goods due to the precision fork placement and controlled travel speeds.
The automated process starts when the inbound operator scans the load type and the load’s position. Then the system determines the zone to which the load must arrive. This triggers the AGV control system to send an AGV to the designated location.
The control system also sends the correct parameters to the AGV for accurate fork positioning. The AGV forks can be individually adjusted to fit the various fork pockets of the carriers so it efficiently moves product, regardless of whether the carrier is a pallet, crate, trolley or box pallet.
Honda has also experienced improvements to personnel productivity. Prior to the AGV system, lift truck drivers delivered racks of products, which were large and required a number moves per hour to keep up. Since installing the AGVs, Honda has been able to reassign drivers to new positions and let the AGVs handle the long distance transport of goods.