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AGVs deliver their own “Juice”

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AGVs deliver their own “Juice”

AGVs deliver their own “Juice”
September 18
09:05 2012

The Tropicana distribution center in Jersey City, NJ,part of PepsiCo’s North America Beverages (NAB) had the goal of improved efficiency and increased order accuracy.  Upon learning that one of their sister facilities had achieved these goals after installing an AGV system, Tropicana wasted no time in initiating a project to install their own AGV system at Jersey City.

The AGVs transport pallets of refrigerated finished goods (38 DEG F), picking them up from twenty-eight (28) discharge conveyors and either transporting the pallets into trailers docked at fourteen (14) trailer loading bays or moving the pallets into temporary storage area while they wait to be shipped.  The pallets are standard CHEP or equivalent GMA measuring 40” x 48” x 60” and weighing 2,500 lbs maximum.

A fleet of 7 counterbalance forked AGVs was provided by JBT Corporation.  The vehicles use laser triangulation guidance which is very flexible in supporting future facility changes.   The vehicles are managed by the SGV Manager software which coordinates all communication to support vehicle operation.

The AGVs receive conveyor load pick up requests from Tropicana’s internal PLC system and trailer order fulfillment destinations or temporary storage/retrieving destinations by a Red Prairie warehouse management system (WMS). These systemstell the SGV Manager which conveyor the pallet should be picked up from and to which area it should be taken.  The SGV Manager then assigns that request to the individual AGV that can most efficiently do that task.

After picking up the pallet, the AGV delivers it to the appropriate location – temporary storage or an over-the-road refrigerated trailer.  If the pallet isn’t ready to be shipped, the AGV will deliver it to a temporary storing and retrieving area where the pallets will be block stacked (stacked on top of each other without racking) until they are ready to be loaded onto a trailer by the AGV.  The pallets are stored in lanes based on their product and SKU, and are tracked through SGV Manager.

The SGV Manager tracks all pallets and their locations in order to retrieve the products when they are needed.  The SGV Manager uses a first in first out (FIFO) system so that the pallets that have been in the storage area the longest will be the first set of pallets out of the storage area.  This ensures that the products will not get too old while waiting in storage to be shipped.  Since SGV Manager is able to track where all of the products are in the warehouse, the AGV will know where the product will be when it is time to retrieve it.

If a product becomes buried in the temporary storage area and needs to be retrieved, SGV Manager will guide the AGV to the appropriate location so it can dig out the product.  The system locates the specific product within the warehouse and creates the paths needed to gain access to the product.  The communication between the SGV Manager and the AGV allows for fast and efficient movements of pallets throughout the warehouse.

The AGVs typicallyoperate 16 hours per day, 5 days per week loading trailers, but more when peak volumes are experienced due to the product sales season.  To maximize production, the AGVs can automatically change each other’s batteries.  When the battery level gets low on an AGV, it reports to a changing area.  Any of the other 6 AGVs can remove the depleted battery and insert it into a charging rack for recharging.  A fully charged battery is then removed from the rack by an AGV and placed into the AGV in which the depleted battery was removed.  This battery swap process requires no labor or additional equipment, which maximizes productivity and minimizes costs.  It keeps the AGVs in operation with only a very short stoppage for battery changing and this maximizes uptime.

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