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AGVs vs AMRs: What’s the difference and which one is right for you?

If you are looking for a way to automate your material handling and transportation tasks, you might have come across two acronyms: AGV and AMR. But what do they mean and how do they differ? Midwest Engineered Systems has decades of experience integrating robots into manufacturing production lines. With that experience, we will help you decide which one is best suited for your production needs.

What are AGVs and AMRs?

In short, AGVs and AMRs are mobile robot systems that are typically used for transporting materials around a warehouse, assembly line or shop floor. But the similarities end there. Both robotic systems have their uses and limitations, depending on the application.

AGVs, which stand for Automated Guided Vehicles, follow fixed paths typically using infrastructure like wires, magnetic tapes, or sensors. They are designed for material transportation within predefined, structured environments, such as warehouses and factories. They also have minimal onboard intelligence and can only follow simple programming instructions. They can detect obstacles but cannot navigate them, so they will stop until the obstacle is removed. Changing the routes for an AGV involves additional costs and disruptions.

On the other hand, AMRs, which stand for Autonomous Mobile Robots, are self-contained robotic systems equipped with sensors, cameras, and advanced software algorithms that allow them to navigate and perform tasks completely autonomously without the need for physical infrastructure. They have sophisticated navigation capabilities and can avoid collisions with people, equipment and other obstacles. They can also dynamically adapt to new layouts, reconfigurations and changing operational demands on the fly.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of AGVs and AMRs?

Both AGVs and AMRs have their strengths and weaknesses, depending on the application and environment. Of course, these are not hard and fast rules; there may be exceptions and overlaps depending on your situation. Many industries have begun integrating AGVs and AMRs into their process. From fulfillment centers to healthcare facilities to manufacturing, mobile robots are one solution to labor shortages and improving process efficiency.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

AGVs work best in a stable, structured and predictable environment that requires precise and consistent material transportation along fixed paths. They are a good option if you have a low initial budget and a long-term commitment to the infrastructure.

Advantages

  • Precise path following: AGVs operate with exceptional accuracy and repeatability along predetermined paths, making them suitable for applications that require high precision and consistency.
  • Lower initial cost: AGVs generally have a lower upfront cost because they rely on fixed infrastructure that is relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
  • Proven technology: AGV technology has been used for several decades, making it a well-established and reliable solution for many industries.

Disadvantages

  • Lack of flexibility: AGVs are limited by their fixed routes and cannot cope with changes in their environment. They are not ideal for dynamic or complex environments that require frequent reconfiguration or adaptation.
  • Infrastructure requirements: AGVs depend on physical infrastructure that can be costly and disruptive to maintain, modify, or remove. The infrastructure can also interfere with other operations or create safety hazards.
  • Collision risk: AGVs have limited obstacle detection and avoidance capabilities and can pose a risk of collision with people or objects in their path.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

AMRs are ideal for a dynamic, complex and unpredictable environment that requires flexible and adaptable material handling and transportation. They are a good option if you have a higher initial budget and need scalability and versatility in your process.

Advantages

  • Profound Flexibility: AMRs are incredibly versatile and adaptable to changing environments. They can easily adjust to new layouts, obstacles and reconfigurations, making them ideal for dynamic or complex environments.
  • No infrastructure requirements: AMRs do not require physical infrastructure like wires or magnetic tapes. This saves time and money on initial setup and allows for quicker deployment and redeployment.
  • Collision avoidance: Advanced sensors and AI algorithms enable AMRs to navigate and avoid collisions with people, equipment and other obstacles, enhancing safety and efficiency in shared spaces.
  • Scalability: AMR fleets can be easily expanded or reduced to meet changing operational demands, providing cost-efficiency and scalability.

Disadvantages

  • Higher initial cost: AMRs often come with a higher initial investment due to the advanced technology and sensors required for autonomous navigation.
  • Maintenance complexity: While AMRs are designed for robustness, their sophisticated systems can require more complex maintenance compared to AGVs.

What experience does MWES have with autonomous robots?

AGVs and AMRs are two different robotic technologies that can help you automate your material handling and transportation tasks. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and are equally suited depending on your process. Ultimately the choice comes down to several factors, such as your operational goals, budget, work environment and application.

To determine which one is best suited for your automation process, contact us today and speak with one of our application engineers to get a quote. Midwest Engineered Systems has the experience you need to upgrade your manufacturing process.

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