- By Julian Seume
- February 22, 2021
In process charging eliminates the plug-in charging, making AGVs (automated guided vehicles) truly autonomous.
Plugging in an AGV to charge is NOT autonomous.
Plugging in an AGV to charge is NOT lean.
Plugging in an AGV to charge is NOT safe.
Plugging in an AGV to charge is NOT cost-efficient.
In process charging eliminates the plug-in charging, making AGVs (automated guided vehicles) truly autonomous. In process charging eliminates the waste of AGV downtime… the fleet is always working AND charging. In process charging is safe ensuring the OSHA, ergonomics, and danger to workers significantly reduced. In process charging is cost-efficient because full vehicle deployment means a reduced fleet count ensuring a rapid ROI.
Effective wireless charging for AGVs is now a reality
Trends in inductive battery charging technology ensures electric forklifts are most efficient on the floors of distribution centers, warehouses, and manufacturing operations. Whether driverless transport systems (AGVs), electric forklifts, or mobile robots (AMRs), the efficient use of industrial trucks is a decisive factor for competitiveness during ever- increasing cost pressures. The energy systems are being scrutinized and lithium-ion batteries are the preferred technology. The advantages versus lead-acid batteries (including the ability to recharge faster and more often) are obvious. Until now the full potential of storage technology has not been fully realized.
Benefits of inductive charging solutions
Conventional battery charging concepts with plug-in cables cannot be automated. Contact sliding chargers are the common but are an unreliable alternative having been designed and developed decades ago. For both, there are often significant investments and maintenance costs required. Inductive charging solutions offer impressive levels of efficiency, flexible integration, and the option of autonomous in process charging. An added benefit is the high degree of flexibility when relocating the charging stations.
Intralogistics and inductive charging
The trend towards lithium-ion batteries in intralogistics continues. Almost all large forklift manufacturers now have models with lithium-ion drives. In the field of driverless transport systems and mobile robots, powerful lithium-ion technology is already standard. Interim charging enables automated 24/7 operations which is critically important with two or three-shift operations at warehouses, distribution centers, 3PLs (third party logistics), and manufacturing facilities.
The extended service life of the batteries reduces operating and maintenance costs in the long term. Commercial vehicles are still frequently charged with wired plug connections, despite the possibility of battery charging during short stops. The charging cables are only connected during longer breaks or after the end of the shift. Without intermediate charging, the batteries’ energy levels drop continuously.
To offset charging depletion, expensive batteries must be significantly larger, since smaller amounts of energy are regularly recharged. The return on investment (ROI) deteriorates. The higher performance prices of peak loads have an impact when the entire fleet is charged after the end of the shift. Ultimately, wired charging concepts are difficult to automate and the industrial trucks and AGVs are not productive during the charging process. This wasteful downtime of equipment is totally antithetical to all Lean Manufacturing principles.
For OEMs of AGVs and industrial trucks implementing inductive charging technology solves the wear and tear issues caused by conventional charging methods as well as making vehicles fully autonomous. For end-users of AGVs and industrial trucks, inductive charging in combination with lithium batteries can improve fleet availability by more than 30%.
High vehicle availability through "in-process charging"
Wireless battery charging systems and energy management solutions circumvent the limitations of conventional charging technologies. Based on the principle of magnetic induction, these technologies automatically transmit high currents fully to industrial trucks and AGVs during the ongoing logistics process.
In process charging allows the batteries to be charged at critical points in the warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing plant floor. The charging process starts with full power in less than a second, so even the shortest downtimes can be used for charging without any significant loss in power conversion. Since there are often no additional charging breaks, downtime is reduced, and vehicle availability increases by up to 30%.
With an efficiency of 93%, wireless charging systems are as efficient as the most powerful wired charging solutions.
Flexible integration possible with wireless charging technologies
The implementation of automation with wireless charging technologies requires no interventions in the warehouse infrastructure. Whether defined parking spaces, on frequently travelled routes or at loading and unloading stations, charging pads can be installed on walls, machines, or on the floor in a few simple steps (and flexibly repositioned when processes and layouts change).
Current and future state of inductive battery charging
The many advantages over conventional charging solutions are obvious. Inductive battery charging systems have the potential of becoming the standard for supplying energy to lithium-ion batteries. They are efficient, flexible, scalable, and can be quickly integrated into any warehouse. In process charging enables completely new automation and logistics processes. Users want to reduce costs sustainably and consistently; inductive charging enables an affordable alternative and clear TCO (total cost of ownership).
To learn more: Wiferion educational session at ProMatDX will take place on Tuesday, April 15 at 9-9:30 am CDT.
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