Coming out of the last recession, companies that had invested heavily into new automation technologies beforehand are less willing to invest again in new technology. However, there is new automation technology that would make new investment worthwhile: the portable assembly line.
It uses battery-free automated guided vehicles (AGVs) with inductive power transfer (IPT) to create a virtually invisible conveyance that is quickly relocated or rerouted. It allows every operation to be independent of the others, which improves efficiency and also gives a clearer picture of the true cost of automated and manual processes at each station.
As an example of how such AGV systems are being applied, we recently worked with a construction vehicle manufacturer that recently moved production back to the United States from Japan. Traditionally, a company like this would have selected chain based conveyance anchored to the building, requiring thousands of pounds of steel track that is scrapped whenever the line is changed. Instead of this more typical approach, the company wanted something that could be rerouted quickly without wasting tons of steel and investing in tons more.
While there is, of course, a significant investment to be made into any new factory automation, installing a portable – a movable and rearrangeable – automated factory would better accommodate any changes in the product and production process.
Read more about the portable assembly line here.