Debunking the Myths of AGVs vs. AMRs: Better, Faster, Smarter

Part 3 of 4: speed, intelligence, setup and flexibility of AGVs and AMRs

Part 3 of 4: Comparing and contrasting the speed, intelligence, setup and flexibility of Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

In the first 2 parts of the Debunking the Myths of AGVs vs. AMRs series (part 1, part 2), we looked at the first 6 myths. In this post, we’ll look at 3 more myths and work to dispel them. of debunking the myths of AGVs vs AMRs, we looked at a couple of myths dogging the AGV market since the introduction of the AMR. In this post, we’ll look at 3 more myths and work to dispel them.

MYTH 7: AMRs are faster, smarter, and more efficient than AGVs.

Depending on the application, AGVs operate in the same speed range as AMRs. But while an AMR carrying a few totes can operate faster than an AGV carrying 10,000 pounds, it’s important to remember that speed can be dangerous. Automated machines need to operate at safe, predictable speeds. The safety sensors on an AGV allow it to travel at speeds where it can quickly stop if a worker steps in front of it. These safety sensors keep workers safe, creating a collaborative robot area where workers and AGVs can operate alongside each other.

REALITY: AGV speeds can vary from 3 feet/second to more than 10 feet/second. But speed is less important - throughput matters more.

When considering an automation solution, it’s more important to look at throughput than speed. AGVs and AMRs actually travel at about the same speed when carrying similar loads. The advantage of an AGV is how much it can carry. AGVs performing automatic trailer-loading can carry up to four full pallets at a time. So, while AGVs may sometimes operate more slowly than AMRs or fork trucks, they make up for it in a greater total amount of product moved in a given period of time. In other words, AGVs offer greater throughput than AMRs.

REALITY: AGV “smarts” vary depending on the application.

The intelligence of an AGV system is directly related to the complexity of the application. Simpler transport-only applications don’t need as much sophistication or intelligence as a system with 10,000-rack pallet locations. AGVs can typically carry more product (both in size and weight) than AMRs.

REALITY: AGVs and AMRs are components of an automated system. Efficiency comes from a system that’s well-designed overall.

MYTH 8: AMRs are easier to set up.

The ease of setting up or implementing an AGV or AMR system is directly related to the complexity of the system. As AMR systems are generally not as complex as most AGV systems, you might assume an AMR system is easier to set up.

REALITY: AGV system setup is based on the simplicity (or complexity) of the system.

However, AGV systems have a shared system map stored locally in each AGV, so actual on-site installation can be only a matter of minutes. This facility map is pre-loaded onto the AGV, which accelerates testing and implementation.

MYTH 9: AGV systems aren’t flexible or scalable.

As your business changes, you need the flexibility to adjust operations to change with it. Adding new machines or reallocating AGVs from one area of a facility to another is quick and easy. The AGV software is shared within a fleet so that changes can easily be made to one machine and replicated to all. New machines can be operational in minutes after arriving at the facility.

REALITY: With today’s AGV software, changes are achieved easily.

Because today’s AGVs use laser- and camera-based navigation, simple instructional changes in the fleet management software enable you to change or modify guidepaths. Changing the guidepath only needs to be completed once, and all the machines in the system receive that change.

AGVs vs AMRs: part 3 - Better, Faster, Smarter

So, the reality is that AGVs are more like AMRs than what you might believe based on what the AMR companies are telling you. No matter what technology you use, make sure it’s right for your needs. In some applications, an AMR-based system might be the best for you; in others, an AGV-based system is the better choice.

Part 4 of this 4-part series will cover the final 3 myths around deployment, guidepath changes, and everyone’s favorite topic: cost. Want to binge it all at once? Download the full AGVs vs. AMRs whitepaper today. 

By John Clark

The goalkeeper of mobile automation, robotics and protein marketing. Soccer coach. Soccer player. Obviously American, but willing to call it football when abroad. Working out the details to invent AGV and Robotic soccer.  

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