What are your goals?
Autonomy or Lean Production?
When selecting automated guided vehicles, numerous criteria must be taken into account depending on the production processes. The question of autonomy or the topic of flexibility is often brought into focus in discussions with users. Too much or too little flexibility reduces production efficiency and increases costs. The more important questions are: What are your goals in the production? Lean processes? Maximum availability? Maximum flexibility and autonomy? uTrack is the benchmark for efficient transport in production. Compared to autonomous AGVs, the system is already over the investment period with minimal effort and costs.
The superiority of UTrack at a glance.
UTrack versus autonomous systems:
the result in direct comparison.
UTrack: Optimal flexibility. Low costs.
Depending on the production process, different conveying techniques make sense. Too much or too little flexibility reduces production efficiency and, conversely, increases costs. Rigid systems can no longer keep up with current trends toward increased product variance or shorter product life cycles. Completely free-running systems, on the other hand, are very costly and this feature often cannot be implemented in practice in a meaningful way. Our experience has shown that uTrack reflects the characteristic of optimal flexibility. The production process is given only as much flexibility as necessary to achieve maximum productivity.
AGVs: Ideal areas of application in production.
Costs and flexibility are directly related to each other. The more complex the transport route, the higher the transport costs. Depending on the production step, the need for flexibility varies. In the area of warehousing and pre-picking, greater flexibility may be appropriate depending on parts availability. In the area of pre-assembly and final assembly, the value added is the greatest. Long distances, downtime due to downtime or detours must be avoided at all costs. uTrack offers the best solution to reduce transport times and avoid downtime due to its optimal flexibility. Especially when transporting heavy loads, uTrack is the preferred choice.
Interview with Dominik Schaffrinski, uTrack Product Manager
Success criteria for the optimal AGV.
High flexibility or Lean Production processes.
There are numerous criteria to consider when selecting automated guided vehicles. A major point of discussion in customer meetings is the flexibility of automated guided vehicles and the comparison between autonomous and track-guided AGVs: How much flexibility is actually necessary? Which features of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) can be used sensibly? Our expert for production processes and transport systems Dominik Schaffrinski provides answers to these questions.
In discussions with users, we are repeatedly confronted with the fact that uTrack is not sufficiently flexible due to the track guidance. Typical arguments of our competitors against us are: uTrack does not allow completely free runs within the production or no short-term adjustments of the track are possible. These arguments only apply to a very small part of our customers' production process, e.g. in the material warehouse, when it is necessary to react to short-term changes in availability. uTrack is mainly used in automated pre- and final assembly areas and production cells. In these areas all sub-production lines comes together and further stationary equipment are present: e.g. cranes for mounting and dismounting of products and subsystems, hall columns, robot systems in welding cells, etc. Flexibility is not required or must be avoided at all costs, otherwise waiting and downtime will occur. Moreover, according to Lean, transport is a waste and must be reduced to a minimum. uTrack always ensures the most efficient transport. It is in character a structural aid that keeps the process as lean as necessary from the start by always ensuring the shortest connection. As a result, we create maximum productivity and competitive advantages for our customers.
In short: not really. With AGVs, all that really counts is throughput and performance. Autonomy is primarily an addition of functions, such as autonomous avoidance of obstacles through to completely free choice of route. In most cases, the increased total cost of ownership (TCO) over the entire investement period is not economically viable. Autonomous AGVs are currently seen as a "magic bullet" and this suggests control and planning reliability. However, it can only react autonomously to a blocked route to a limited extent without losing efficiency. This does not solve the actual problem, but rather compensates the symptoms at higher cost. In comparison, autonomy always requires more time, higher space requirements and overall higher costs. uTrack guarantees stability and forces compliance with the processes in order to make the transport as efficient as possible.
The key discipline is clearly the area of pre- and final assembly in the load range above 5 tons. In no other area of the value chain is the value added at its highest. Any downtime has an impact on all preceding areas and must be ruled out. uTrack best meets our customers' expectations here. Highest production reliability through an extremely robust system, compactness even with large and heavy products to meet ergonomic requirements as well as minimum energy consumption. If you have set Lean Production as your goal, there is no way around uTrack.
Another unique selling point is the integration with highly complex automation systems where maximum availability and precision are required, e.g. with robots in production processes. The integration of AGVs in production steps such as welding, riveting, gluing, sealing, measuring, etc. is made possible at all with uTrack thanks to its high precision and repeatability. Additional transfer processes can be dispensed with using additional centering devices.
Less than you think. uTrack is track-guided on our RoundTrack system. The effort is limited only to the track material and the floor work under the rail. The areas in between or next to it can be almost completely ignored. The integration is done by a minimal cut into the ground. Only for our change of direction technology, such as turning stations or quadro turnstile, are somewhat larger construction measures necessary, but these only account for a small amount in the overall project. The RoundTrack fits almost all common industrial floors, has no risk of tripping, is extremely durable and can be adapted or extended as required. The customer gets everything from a single source and is not confronted with changing contact persons.
In fact, the demands on the floor are higher for autonomous systems, because the space requirements and the demands on the evenness of the surfaces are greater. Completely self-driven vehicles, which are equipped with Mecanum rolls, for example, have one of the highest floor requirements. The RoundTrack fits almost all common industrial floors.