Improving AGV Efficiency with Cascade
As a rapidly growing industry, automated materials handling is at the forefront of warehousing and supply chain innovations. Chris Walthers, Cascade’s Global R&D Engineering Manager, identifies two major forces driving the automation trend: labor markets and energy savings. “With high employee turnover rates and labor shortages, it can be challenging to find forklift drivers,” Walthers says. “Automation, including robotics, automatic systems, and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), is a cost-effective strategy to minimize the cost of employee turnover and recurrent training. Automation provides an opportunity to optimize the distribution of work as strategies can be applied to areas of the operation that would benefit the most, like repetitive tasks, for more streamlined and faster workflows.”
Energy considerations are another crucial driver of automation. “Automation means more accurate load positioning, reducing downtime, and ensuring optimum AGV and attachment performance,” Walthers says. “Front end solutions, including the attachment and/or forks combined with the mast, for AGVs can be programmed to optimize energy usage by reducing unnecessary movements and minimizing idle time, reducing waste and inefficiency in the operation.”
With years of experience supplying front end solutions for AGVs/AGFs, Cascade has specialized in designing products that keep your automated warehouse as efficient and productive as it can be. Together, let’s explore how Cascade can help lower costs and optimize your automated material handling.
We design all our products for intuitive operation and to thrive in a variety of applications; our all-electric attachments from Cascade Electrix™ are no different.
Cascade’s Electric Multiple Load Handler is one example of an attachment that adds loads of value to your AGV. With electric actuators and a low friction bearing system, this Multiple Load Handler consumes minimal energy and ensures longer AGV battery life, all while increasing your AGV’s handling capacity per cycle.
Other Cascade Electrix™ products from our all-electric product line have benefits that include:
1. Lower Total System Costs—with no hydraulics necessary, components like the hydraulic pump motor, oil reservoir, and hoses can be eliminated. By removing the hydraulic system from the equation, customers can reduce maintenance needs and eliminate contamination risks.
2. Data Analysis— valuable information, like actuator cycle counts and utilization rates, are easily transmitted to your AGV’s systems, where it can be used for predictive maintenance and workflow analysis. This data gives operations detailed knowledge of the attachment’s performance and can assist with process optimization.
What about masts?
To lower system costs and eliminate hydraulic components even further, our Electrix™ attachments can be combined with all-electric masts from Cascade subsidiary, Lift-Tek, providing a complete custom bundle solution for the front end of your AGV. “Our next-generation electric mast from Lift-Tek offers even better lifting speeds,” Chris Walthers says. “If you really want to maximize your AGV’s productivity, bundling this ultra-efficient mast with one of our electric attachments is the perfect way to move more, use less energy, and completely eliminate hydraulic components from your system, lowering total costs.”
Specialized Environments & Custom Solutions
At Cascade, we’ve adapted our forks, attachments, and other technologies to AGV projects (in numerous industries) for years. With this experience, we’ve developed future-oriented products to get the most out of your AGV now and for years to come. We have products for:
Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) Environments - if maximizing warehouse space with your AGVs is your top priority, Cascade designs attachments—like our Bilateral and Trilateral Head—that offer improved workflow in automated applications. With a Bilateral Head attachment, an AGV does not need to turn to approach a warehouse racking system and then place the load onto the rack. This unique attachment has forks that traverse the carriage and then extend from the left and right sides. This functionality allows the vehicle to travel straight down a warehouse aisle and deposit the load onto a rack from either side of the vehicle — no turning necessary. Our Trilateral Head attachments enable forks to turn left or right 90 degrees and allow for navigation of narrow aisles with ease. Combine it with a 3-stage Lift-Tek mast with lifting heights up to 39 feet/12 meters, and this makes for a perfect warehouse solution.
Wide Industry Compatibility—wherever AGVs go next, we will follow. Cascade has solutions for any materials handling industry, from Paper and Tissue to Logistics and White Goods. With smart solutions for all of these environments—like damage-reducing Sensor Forks and Multiple Load Handlers equipped with speedy RapidSync™—your AGV will be the precision instrument you need to get the job done quickly and accurately.
Custom Attachments—in many AGV workflows—especially in warehousing and logistics—the size and type of goods are changing constantly. Using specialized custom attachments from Cascade, you can meet these new demands while exceeding productivity expectations. “Our custom engineering team is always innovating for customers who require specialty AGV solutions,” Chris explains. “Recently, we designed a specialty 3H Paper Roll Clamp for a customer in the dairy industry who needed an efficient way to handle small-sized rolls of product packaging, damage-free. It goes to show that, no matter the industry or the load, Cascade can provide optimized AGV attachments that thrive in any fully automated environment.”
Looking Toward the Future
The overwhelming challenge in the material handling industry today is that supply chains are operating at maximum capacity. With a front-end solution from Cascade, your AGV can achieve its full potential by reaching peak efficiency, getting more product out the door, and preventing loss from handling damage. “With 32 locations around the world, Cascade has strength in numbers,” Chris explains. “The global company structure allows us to provide our customers with reliable, local support directly in their market. This is especially helpful for switching to automation, which requires careful planning and expertise.”
Investing in the right attachment and related technologies for your AGVs or AGFs is the best way to get a leg up on the competition. With installation support, sensor adaption for seamless integration into AGVs, and unmatched after-sale services, Cascade is your partner for the long haul.