Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Autonomous Warehouse Vision Guided Trucks Move Freight a Million Miles

Self-Driving Materials Handling Firm Reaches a Milestone
Shipping News Feature
US – Driving a million miles in a semi-truck or a van is something of an achievement, albeit one which is becoming ever more common. This week however automated materials handling company Seegrid achieved a milestone that is perhaps more significant, its self-driving vehicles have reached 1 million production miles at customer sites without a single personnel safety incident. Having now travelled the equivalent of 40 times around the earth, Seegrid vision guided vehicles (VGVs) claim to have logged more infrastructure-free miles at a variety of freight and distribution depots than any other infrastructure-free AGV company.

Seegrid can claim some famous names which use its technology in a variety of logistics scenarios, from the usual suspects such as Amazon to a bunch of big hitters in the automotive sector, Jaguar, BMW, GM etc. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) statistics, in the US someone dies every three days in a forklift accident, and each year 34,900 serious injuries occur, making worker safety a massive factor in any factory or warehouse setting. Automated systems can have a positive effect in areas where inherent dangers traditionally lurk. Jeff Burnstein, president of the Robotic Industries Association, points out:

“Seegrid hitting this impressive milestone demonstrates that workplace automation can be implemented in a safe and efficient manner across industries. A million accident-free miles is a remarkable accomplishment considering the complex and dynamic nature of today’s industrial facilities, and it highlights the maturation of this automation market, which we expect to continue growing as demand for self-driving vehicles rises globally.”

Although safety is a primary target, as with any commercial situation the original and main driver is the search for more efficiency and lower costs. Without improved performance figures the automated devices would never have gained a foothold in the market, as evidenced by Joe Hurley, senior vice president of supply chain at Giant Eagle, who commented:

“Seegrid self-driving vehicles have reduced the number of miles driven by the Team Members who work in our retail support centres, allowing us to redeploy our folks to more value-added roles while improving overall safety. The self-driving vehicles travel on predefined routes and follow all safety rules, creating an environment of efficiency and predictability.”