Casebook 2011: Automatic guided vehicles soak up waste and inefficiency
Quaker Tropicana Gatorade (QTG), a subsidiary business of PepsiCo, was looking to boost productivity and operational efficiency in its Atlanta, Ga., facility. The facility had already automated the production and bottling process. With those improvements so successful, the company looked to make similar moves in finished product movement. A mixture of laser-guided, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) and software yielded a targeted return on investment. And now, the vehicles (JBT Corporation, 215-822-4600, http://www.jbtc-agv.com) are slated to roll out in other QTG facilities.
The AGV system includes 11 computer-controlled vehicles and the management software is fully integrated in the plant warehouse management system. The 5,000-pound capacity, counterbalanced AGVs are outfitted with single/double fork attachments that allow each vehicle to carry one or two adjacent pallets. The battery-powered units automatically swap batteries, and use front-, side- and rear-mounted lasers to detect obstacles.
The units pick up full pallets of finished goods from 10 stretch wrappers and deliver them to the appropriate destination: directly onto over-the-road trailers, onto bridge conveyors to an adjacent distribution center, or into temporary storage lanes. Web-based management software coordinates efficient vehicle movement and shares information with external I/O on the conveyors and other plant software. And because the system can be accessed remotely, supervisors can monitor system performance quickly and easily.