Hard-working industrial vehicles are critical to moving and placing materials in a variety of challenging environments. However, with traditional, manually-driven powered industrial trucks (PIT) being prone to accidents and injuries, facilities are always looking for strategies to ensure materials can be moved safely—without compromising productivity. Setting and achieving safety goals in manufacturing plants and distribution warehouses are well worth the effort. In fact, according to OSHA, the federal agency that enforces regulations regarding the operation of industrial trucks, there are an estimated 97,000 injuries involving forklifts and an average of 91 fatalities due to powered industrial trucks that occur annually in the US. These safety incidents take a toll on the well-being and health of employees, cause a disruption in production workflows, contribute to growing labor shortage issues, and can be costly for the company.
Achieving Safety and Productivity Goals with Automation
Material handling automation is a necessity for manufacturing and distribution facilities to increase safety, gain a competitive edge, and tackle growing complexities. With automated guided vehicles taking on the monotonous, extremely physical, and dangerous work, instead of prioritizing productivity over safety, the goals can be achieved simultaneously. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) ensure accuracy, minimize costs, improve facility safety, and boost throughput—24/7.
Material Handling Solutions that Exceed Safety Standards
Traditional, manually-driven forklifts rely on human input which can be compromised in many ways, creating risks of catastrophic magnitude. When performing repetitive and consistent handling of materials, human operators can become fatigued or distracted which could lead to errors, damaged goods, heavy wear-and-tear on equipment, increased downtime, and injuries. With technology in control of Seegrid AGVs at all times, the vehicles will reliably follow the intended route, maintain the right speed limits, avoid collisions, behave predictably and consistently, and never behave erratically. Facilities are ultimately safer when the monotonous, extremely physical, and dangerous work is automated with Seegrid AGVs. And, with the human workforce focused on highly cognitive tasks, employees are more engaged and satisfied.
Because there is no greater concern than the safety, health, and lives of workers, Seegrid self-driving industrial vehicles are designed with many fail-safe features. Seegrid vision guided vehicles (VGVs) go above and beyond ANSI B56.5 safety standards, working seamlessly—and safely—alongside their human coworkers. Independent UL approved safety systems, including scanning laser obstacle detection sensors and e-stops, are included on the vehicles to ensure safe operation around machinery and personnel. Seegrid’s approach is to not only meet, but to also exceed regulatory requirements by building an envelope of constantly scanning safety sensors to ensure the vehicle will stop before contacting any obstructions, including people.
Below are some of Seegrid AGV features that put safety first:
- Safety Sensors: Equipped with two safety systems, Seegrid AGVs go beyond safety requirements. The redundant safety systems cause the AGV to reduce speed or come to an immediate, complete stop when a person or object is detected. Seegrid AGVs that move in reverse also have additional safety sensors behind the vehicle to safely move in either direction. No matter how fast-paced and dynamic the facility, if someone walks in front of a vehicle, the laser scanner will detect the person and instantly stop the vehicle. When the person moves out of the way, the vehicle will resume motion.
- Emergency Stop Buttons: A highly visible button provides another safety mechanism onboard the vehicle. When pressed, the motor brake is immediately applied, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop.
- Turn Signals: Indicator lights atop the AGV indicate direction of travel during turns, so employees will always know which way the AGV is moving. This not only enhances safety, but it also increases the comfort and confidence of employees working alongside the autonomous vehicles.
- Horn Honks and Motion Alarms: Seegrid vehicles use distinct alerts to notify human co-workers of their movements. An auto horn indicates motion is starting, a travel tone indicates a vehicle is in motion, and a horn signifies travel in reverse.
Reliability is a Key Factor to Material Handling Success
In addition to AGVs serving as a poka-yoke in heading off safety issues, automated vehicles also solve labor shortages. Currently, companies across all industries are experiencing an unprecedented skilled labor gap that continues to grow. For example, Deloitte estimates 2.4 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled by 2028¹. This lack of workers puts additional strain and pressure on facility operations to meet growing customer demands for near-immediate fulfillment.
It takes valuable time and resources to find and develop skilled workers, especially during a monumental labor shortage. Even your best workers -- the ones you’d love to clone -- make mistakes, require sick days, and run the risk of leaving for a higher paying and more rewarding opportunity. To ensure uninterrupted success, companies need reliable solutions to solve safety and productivity goals.
The Proven, Reliable AGV Solution
Seegrid AGVs, also known as Vision Guided Vehicles (VGVs), autonomously move billions of pounds of material each month and have safely driven more than 3 million of autonomous miles in real production facilities without a single personnel safety incident. The proprietary Seegrid Vision technology is proven and reliable while operating in very busy, high-traffic facilities with ever-changing environments. In fact, this type of navigation system ensures that vehicles are more consistent, predictable and reliable than human drivers. This improves efficiency and employee safety, allowing your manufacturing and logistics processes to be as productive as possible.
To create this level of reliability, Seegrid turns industry-leading OEM pallet trucks and tow tractors into self-driving industrial vehicles using cameras, sophisticated algorithms, and machine learning to navigate autonomously. Seegrid VGVs use stereoscopic cameras and a patented evidence grid technology to capture a view of the world similar to how humans see. As the vehicle drives, VGVs take pictures and interpret data in real time to navigate reliably, even if the environment is constantly changing. Seegrid vehicles are equipped with 10 cameras that work in unison to provide a full spherical, three-dimensional view with depth perception. The 3D evidence grid system is the most robust and reliable navigation in dynamic environments, constantly collecting, filtering, and prioritizing data.
Use AGVs to Achieve Your Goals Today—And in the Future
As your operation grows, AGVs also provide the flexibility to safely and productively scale to demands without sacrificing downtime. Unlike other infrastructure-free vehicles on the market, route changes can be made by facility personnel while production is running without assistance from a Seegrid representative. To change a route, simply drive the vehicle through its new route one time, and it can start with its new assignment right away. With one vehicle trained, routes can easily be shared across the entire fleet. Seegrid vehicles provide the flexibility to tackle any adjustments, such as changing routes over time, adding additional routes, using different routes shift to shift, adding additional vehicles, or driving in a completely different facility -- all safely handled by facility personnel without disrupting production.
Leave the Hazardous Work for the Robots
Safety will always remain a top priority for manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics facilities. With the right automation solutions, there no longer has to be a tradeoff between safety and productivity. Achieve both goals and confidently continue to optimize for an even stronger tomorrow.