How to design a quick & easy AGV loop in 24h

AGV loop AGV for lean manufacturing

How to design a quick & easy AGV loop in 24h

Have you always wanted to integrate AGV loops into your layout, but never really known where to start? Does your notion of AGV loop seem not iterative enough, too large of a project to be done in a single day? Do you understand the link between takt times and logistic loops?

Well, look no further, we’ve compiled our extensive knowledge on the subject. Discover how to use test & learn techniques to create an efficient AGV loop. Learn how to create in a shorter amount of time, while learning more and more, by taking in subjects one by one.

Here are our 3 quick and easy tricks to create an efficient AGV loop.

#1 Reduce load sizes & find your standard

The first step, and probably the most important, is to get rid of the idea that you will continue to deliver the same way you did yesterday. Never do the same again! Change your mind about batch sizes and get rid of 500 kg deliveries. What if you change and deliver smaller sizes, for example 12 kg? This way, it will be easier to carry it by hand and by robot. If you have large parts to transport you can go up to 20 kg, but beyond that weight the boxes become more and more difficult to handle.

Yesterday you were delivering massive shipments at once. These are heavy containers, large boxes, loaded pallets or even piles of overflowing coins. This method is absurd. How about a continuous flow for your factories? Reduce your batch size to create a seamless material flow.

Nowadays you have to take the next step and figure out how to reduce the size of your loads. A smaller batch will be easier to transport and simpler to deliver. Using standard containers is incredibly beneficial to the workflow and material flow in your plant. You can follow Toyota’s lead! Their production system (TPS) is constantly learning how to reduce batch sizes, allowing them to see problems faster. And the sooner you locate a problem, the faster you can practice continuous improvement.

#2 Plan small projects to learn better

While some major projects are spread out over years at a time, to gain the best experience out of layout changes, the best way is to use an iterative process. An iterative process means that small tests are run, and a feedback loop is created to extract the most information possible from the experience.

Information about issues and hiccups along the way become learning material to improve the project in the future. By breaking down the process into smaller, more manageable portions, deliveries become smaller, quicker and steadier. The installation of an AGV loop becomes a cycle of opportunities for learning.

Here is an example of how to implement an AGV loop by iteration:

Step 1: Deliver 1 specific piece to 1 workstation
Step 2: Deliver 1 specific tray to 1 workstation
Step 3: Deliver 1 specific tray to 2 workstations
Step 4: Deliver 2 specific trays to 2 workstations
Step 5: Deliver 2 different trays to 2 workstations
Step 6: Continue doing continuous improvements!

#3 Make deliveries quicker and more frequent

The next tip is to speed up the circuit of the AGV, making it do its loop more regularly. Since it visits its delivery location more frequently, stock sizes are reduced. As an example, let’s look at some suggestions for takt times and AGV deliveries for workstations in a production plant.

Takt time AGV delivery objective
60 seconds 30 minutes
20 minutes 60 minutes
280 minutes 60 minutes (yes, really!)

Have you ever heard of a milkrun? The milkrun origins date back to rural USA in the 1900s, where a train would make frequent stops around farms to collect milk cans, that would then be sent to dairies for bottling.

This process has since been adopted by the manufacturing industry and is used to describe a method that accelerates material flow inside factories and between plants. The material provider, or delivery person, delivers pieces to different stations in sequence with a fixed schedule.

Much like the milkrun for literal milk, this new version uses fixed routes to perform multiple collections or deliveries. Instead of waiting for enough deliverable volume in each location that would fill up a truck or trolley, this way allows you to reduce stock sizes and response time on the production line. Instead of going back and forth between locations, you develop a loop.

Creating an AGV loop in 24h

You will be able to implement an AGV loop with no issues. A thing to keep in mind is that an AGV loop is used to fluidify a flow, creating a seamless and continuous stream of materials. This is one of the best ways to reveal problems, and by understanding your problems, you can get to really understand your flow.