Automatic transport system helps double production
Engine manufacturer replaces aging AGV system to keep workers productive.
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AER Manufacturing, a combustion engine manufacturer outside Dallas, Texas, builds OEM replacement motors for major automobile manufacturers in the United States such as Ford, GM and Nissan, and also has its own product line. In the facility where final assembly and shipping occur, AER replaced an aging automatic guided vehicle (AGV) system with compact AGV tuggers to improve reliability and productivity.
After about 20 years of using the previous tugger system, AER found that the high cost of proprietary parts and the need for workers to manually move the vehicles throughout the facility was reducing profitability and increasing downtime and labor costs. The company installed two new tugger units (Egemin) that are called with buttons at each workstation to make transport immediately available when needed. Because the vehicles automatically charge when they’re awaiting new transport requests, operators do not need to spend time changing batteries.
The AGVs use off-the-shelf components, which enables AER to get replacement parts on-demand. Because the vehicles don’t sit in maintenance waiting for a proprietary part, the company saves time and money with faster, less expensive repairs. Operators are no longer required to leave the production lines and drive the vehicles manually down long hallways.
“We’re able to use our workforce where we want it, which is assembling and packaging engines,” says Todd Haisten, plant manager for AER. “The most positive improvement is we’ve had zero damage. Those AGVs have not run into a single person or piece of equipment.”
The vehicles were delivered about four months after the project began and installed in four days. With a capacity rated to 10,000 pounds and capable of traveling at 200 feet per minute, the replacement units have helped production increase from a low of 100 engines a day up to 220 engines a day. AER expects that the system will enable production of up to 300 engines a day since the manufacturing labor no longer needs to manually move vehicles between workstations.
AER reports considerably increased safety for personnel, and reduced product and equipment damage. Because of the decrease in parts costs and better use of employees, the projected return on investment is approximately 18 months.
About the AuthorJosh Bond, Senior Editor Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.
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