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 loops 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, and probably the most important, step is to rid yourself of the idea that you’ll continue to deliver the same way as yesterday. Never deliver the same way again! Change your mind-set about batch sizes and get rid of 500kg deliveries! How about targeting a smaller delivery size, such as 12kg? That way, it’s easier to transport by hand and by robot. If you have large pieces to transport, you could go up to 20kg, but over this weight, boxes become more difficult to handle.

Yesterday, you delivered massive loads of pieces at a time. This includes heavy containers, large boxes, loaded pallets or even overflowing piles of pieces. This method is ridiculous. How about a seamless flow for your factories? Decrease your batch size to create a seamless flow of materials.

Today, you need to take the next step and imagine how to reduce the load size. By doing so, a smaller batch size will be easier to transport and simpler to deliver. Using standard containers is incredibly beneficial to workflow and the flow of materials throughout your factory.

You can follow Toyota’s example! Their production system (TPS) is constantly learning how to decrease batch sizes, this allows them to see problems quicker. And, the faster you locate an issue, 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.