Anticipating many of the changes that were coming to modern industry, Elwell-Parker began manufacturing automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) in the mid-1980s to complement its operator-controlled lines of products. When introduced, Elwell-Parker AGVs offered new advantages in speed and efficiency over conventional material handling methods. Automated Guided Vehicles also provided more consistent handling with less potential for product damage than manual or overhead methods of transport. Although Elwell-Parker no longer manufactures new AGV equipment, these cutting-edge machines continue to set the standard in automated materials handling.
What Is an Automatic Guided Vehicle?
Automatic guided vehicles are high-tech, specialized pieces of material handling equipment. They are frequently used in coil handling, die handling, pallet handling, and in high-payload applications. Functions range from simple burden carriers and tractors to semi- and fully-automated platform trucks and side-loaders.
Using a combination of logic software and wire or laser-guided pathways, AGVs can replicate the functions of many operator-controlled vehicles as well as perform tasks that are impossible through alternative methods. Freed from the constraints of having an onboard operator station, automated vehicles are designed with unique, atypical profiles to fit each vehicle's specific application. Auotmated guided vehicles in the Elwell-Parker lines have capacities ranging from 25,000 to 250,000 pounds and can move and position huge loads to within a fraction of an inch.
Astonishing Increases in Productivity through Logic Software
Using state-of-the-art simulation and logic software, Elwell-Parker automatic guided vehicles can quickly perform operational functions at pre-assigned times to meet extremely tight production and distribution schedules. One early adopter of these vehicles, a steel coil producer in Indiana, was able to use a fleet of Elwell-Parker AGVs to transform its operations from a conventional to a continuous process, resulting in a 28,000% increase in efficiency!
Flexible, Precise Controls
Elwell-Parker automated guided vehicles are computer controlled and wire guided to navigate large facilities while transporting heavy loads such as coils, dies, or metal ingots. Guidepaths are typically buried in the floor but can be quickly rerouted to reflect changes in the plant's layout. Onboard sensors detect obstacles, other vehicles, or any obstructions and cause the vehicle to adjust its speed or stop accordingly. Manual control options, often via pendant, remote control, or dedicated control room, are included on each vehicle.
SCR travel controls, furthermore, provide smooth and consistent acceleration -- an especially critical feature in busy industrial environments -- while a four-wheel steering system provides tight maneuvering, cornering, and bi-directional travel. These features in particular are similar to systems that Elwell-Parker perfected decades earlier for its operator-controlled vehicles and which are still standard on all Elwell-Parker products today.
Quiet, Pollution-Free Electric Power
Powering the system in most early models are two 36-volt DC batteries with four compound-wound, Class-H insulated drive motors connected in a parallel arrangement for 72 volts of supplied power for an entire shift. Subsequent models offer optional opportunity charging systems to increase battery life and allow for continuous around-the-clock service. Onboard sensors constantly monitor temperature and voltage to prevent motor damage and extend battery life.
Setting the Standard in Automated Materials Handling
As automated materials handling becomes a more critical component of modern manufacturing, the AGVs designed by Elwell-Parker continue to play an important role in influencing efficiency. For example, a malfunction on a crane or conveyor belt can lead to system-wide delays, but with a fleet of two or more automatic guided vehicles, equipment can be serviced with no loss to productivity.
Elwell-Parker automatic guided vehicles also help set standards of in-process inventory management and control while leading to significant decreases in labor costs. Even as automated systems become increasingly complex, the rock-solid foundation of 30 years of Elwell-Parker's automatic guided vehicle technology remain the industry standard.
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