AGV system simulations can be extremely beneficial to both the client and the AGV manufacturer for several reasons.
Because AGV systems can be very complex with a substantial investment, it is prudent to perform an analysis of its capability versus the benefits it provides. This can be a great way of determining if an AGV system is a good fit for your modern material handling operation.
So, what is an AGV system simulation anyway? An AGV simulation is a computer-generated virtual model of the factory or warehouse that incorporates the chosen navigational routes, number of vehicles, and other parameters that can influence the optimization of the AGV system. The simulations allow the user to observe changes in the system inputs and outputs in real time, giving the capability to optimize the AGV system for current as well as future needs.
Benefits of AGV Simulation Include:
- Increase warehouse efficiency
- Facility layout and design
- Material handling optimization and fleet sizing
- Capacity planning and scheduling
- Human and automated equipment interaction
- Address design and operational issues prior to installation
- Increasing the capability of the AGVs
- Increased throughput and reduced inventory-holding costs
- Ensures safety performance via proven virtual methods
Simulating an AGV system can be critical in analyzing the impact of future growth in a warehouse and may help to identify possible capacity constraints. Congestion analysis is another item that can negatively impact warehouse efficiency. The analysis includes incoming/outgoing trucks, internal pick sequences, and replenishment schedules that can be simulated and optimized to reduce cost of the operation.
A simulation is a great tool to identify several possible problems such as:
- Initiating job order
- Verifying stations
- Traffic rules
- Minimization of empty driving
- I/O signals
Identifying issues with optimization for example, when fixed, can achieve significant savings in time and produce a better flow of work. In this example, the user may consider things like:
- Verify that the vehicle drives take the most efficient route.
- Different flow scenarios: for example, if there is one in door and one outdoor, could the flow be improved utilizing multi-directional doors?
- Minimize stops in the layout; its generally better to have vehicles moving continually in a slow pattern versus making frequent stops and starts.
- Consider the priority of stations. Could a change in the priority improve the flow?
- Verify that the system handles the required amount of goods.
As you can see from the examples above, a simulation can be very complex and involved, but will help to ensure that the AGV system is designed to be as cost effective and efficient as possible. While a simulation is not always required to design a system, it is often recommended to ensure the maximum benefit out of an AGV investment. At Transbotics, our team has conducted numerous simulations and studies to optimize and improve efficiencies for our clients.