Automation makeover boosts efficiency for multiple facilities

Manufacturer transports materials with near-lights-out automatic guided vehicle system.

By ·

L’Oréal, a multinational cosmetics manufacturer, recently automated six of its sites in Europe and the United States, deploying 100 automatic guided vehicles (AGVs). The facilities report increased efficiency, production, safety and comfort in their operations.

The new AGVs (Egemin, transport packaging materials such as jars, bottles, flasks, boxes, lids, caps and labels from the warehouse to the filling lines and back. When the filled boxes are stacked onto a pallet, an AGV is sent to the filling line to pick up the pallet and bring it to the wrapper line.

In nearly all sites, the AGV systems have been equipped with an automatic battery exchange system requiring no operator intervention. Combined with maintenance-free batteries, this leads to a virtual lights-out AGV system. The vehicles are compatible for lifting heights up to 2.4 meters.

The production staff can also give other assignments to the AGVs including: arrange removal of packaging materials that are no longer needed to the warehouse; supply empty pallets to the line; or pick up cardboard that can be reused. For the transport of large and heavy intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), heavy-load AGVs are capable of lifting up to 1,200 kg. At some production sites, the AGVs also take care of transporting finished products to the warehouse and even the storage and retrieval process inside the warehouse.

To avoid accidents, the AGVs always follow the same clearly marked route and never operate outside the programmed zones. They automatically stop when they detect obstacles or when people walk into their operating range.

“The introduction of AGVs in our operations has increased operator comfort and safety,” says Markus Moch, project manager at L’Oréal Karlsruhe. “Because of the standardization, we now have a much more regular transport flow and our warehouse with packaging materials looks a lot neater. The work is also more enjoyable for the operators working on the production line, as they don’t need to call a colleague for help. The AGVs are not necessarily faster, but they perform the tasks smoother and safer.”

About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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