Automated Charging: The Key to Warehouse Automation
As automation technology continues to reshape the material handling industry, Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have become part of warehouse operators’ strategic roadmaps, if they’re not already widely used. These robotic workhorses tirelessly move materials within factories and warehouses, contributing to increased efficiency and productivity. However, one challenge that AGV operators face is ensuring these vehicles remain charged and operational. In this blog post, we will explore the financial advantages of automated charging for AGVs and why wireless charging is the way forward for warehouses that are both currently using, and considering using, autonomous vehicles.
Automated Charging is Financially Advantageous
Before we dive into the need for automated charging for autonomous vehicles, let’s take a step back and consider how automated charging can benefit warehouse operations with and without autonomous vehicles. Automated charging has several benefits, primarily:
1. Eliminating Costly Manual Interventions
a. Other charging methods like plug-in charging, fuel cell fueling, and battery swapping waste operator time, requiring them to stop their usual work and charge their vehicles, whether they’re autonomous or not.
b. Coordinating manual charging can be frustrating and slow, leading to additional operational inefficiencies. This is true when coordinating charging for both manned and autonomous vehicles, not only in directing vehicles to available charging stations, but also in the time it takes for them to get there.
2. Maximizing Efficiency with Non-stop Operation
The benefits of automated charging become even more significant, and the limitations of traditional charging more disruptive to operations, when autonomous vehicles are leveraged. Today, in warehouses:
a. AGVs can work non-stop without breaks, making any charge time during operational hours costly. With automated charging, they can charge while they work and at planned stops, ensuring they never need to stop just to be charged again.
b. AGVs often have ebbs and flows of work that do not align with operator break times. Automated charging allows them to take advantage of these breaks, to charge when they’re not needed and maximize productivity when they are needed.
c. Automated charging enables AGVs to continue operating effectively even when manual interventions for charging are impractical.
Automated Charging is Wireless Charging
Because of these issues and more, true automation cannot be achieved without automated charging, and automated charging is wireless charging.
1. The Limitations of Contact-Based Wireless Charging
a. Current contact-based chargers are actuated, which increases complexity and potential points of failure, in addition to requiring manual intervention for charging to start and stop.
b. These chargers face cost challenges due to their reliance on off-the-shelf components with added hardware, creating inefficiencies and driving up operating expenses.
c. Contact-based chargers are slow chargers.
d. Contact-based chargers are often vendor-specific and cannot interoperate between different AGVs and manual vehicles, hindering businesses' comfort in adopting new equipment.
2. The Solution: Resonant Link's Wireless Charging
a. Resonant Link's wireless charging provides an integrated, robust system with no moving parts, for a hassle-free, reliable charging solution that doesn’t require ongoing maintenance.
b. Resonant Link’s fast charging up to 400 A ensures AGVs can be charged quickly. Even the largest forklift batteries can be fully charged in about 2 hours and any battery can receive a partial charge in mere minutes, for automated opportunity charging.
c. Resonant Link offers a universal solution for AGVs and manually operated vehicles, as our 19.2 kW, 400 A wireless lift truck charger works with different battery chemistries, voltages, and vehicle types.
Autonomous Guided Vehicles are revolutionizing material handling fleets, but to maximize their potential, they need efficient charging solutions: they need automated charging. Manual charging methods are costly and frustrating, leading to operational downtime and excess equipment, among other issues. Wireless charging, particularly Resonant Link's system, offers a reliable and efficient alternative. By embracing automated charging, warehouse operators can enjoy seamless operations and significant financial advantages. As technology continues to evolve, wireless charging is the key to unlocking the full potential of AGVs in the modern warehouse.
Curious how automated charging can fuel your operations? Reach out to discuss a pilot today.
Photo: EK Robotics