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[ 2010/09/13 | Hitachi Plant Technologies, Ltd. | Construction | Tokyo | Non-listed ]

Hitachi Plant Technologies, Ltd. receives first orders for its "Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle"



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September 13, 2010
Hitachi Plant Technologies, Ltd.

Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle

TOKYO, September 13, 2010 --- Hitachi Plant Technologies Ltd. (HQ: Toshima-ku, Tokyo, President & Representative Director: Toshiaki Higashihara) has received the first purchase order of the Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle from a major glass manufacturer. This vehicle can estimate its own location and autonomously guide itself along a path on an electronic map without the use of equipment (traveling guide). Hitachi Plant Technologies plans to actively expand sales in Japan and overseas, with a particular focus on Asia, aiming for 4 billion yen in sales in FY2015.

At "LOGIS-TECH TOKYO 2010", Asia's largest material handling & logistics exhibition, to be held between September 14 (Tue.) and September 17 (Fri.) at Tokyo Big Sight, Hitachi Plant Technologies will be jointly displaying and demonstrating the Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle with TCM CORPORATION (HQ: Osaka, President & CEO: Hideo Arahata).

Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) that run automatically and are controlled by computers have been used in a wide range of fields and applications, such as on factory production floors, in warehouses, and in distribution centers, and have received more attention as a mode of transportation in recent years because they do not produce CO2 emissions that harm the environment.

In conventional AGVs, the standard method of guidance detection is to install traveling guides along the route, such as guide wires, magnetic tape, markers, and reflection mirrors. Consequently when changes to the layout are made, much work is needed to move and reinstall the travelling guides after the vehicle is introduced. However, to meet the diversified needs such as high-mix and low-volume production, AGVs are required to respond quickly and flexibly to changes in the layout of production and distribution sites. Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicles can handle these needs.

The Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle has a laser distance sensor that acquires the information, automatically generates an electronic map of the route, and has a "robot function" that simultaneously allows it to automatically recognize its own location. The vehicle sets the route to be traveled in the electronic map and travels along the route as matches the location with the electronic map. This means that it is no longer necessary to install traveling guides, which not only reduces time lost for installation, but also makes it possible to quickly and flexibly make changes to the layout. Functions that enable the vehicle to avoid obstacles while traveling also make it possible for companies to build more flexible production lines.

Hitachi Plant Technologies has worked on AGVs for approximately 30 years, and has accumulated a wealth of know-how and experience. For the development and commercialization of this Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle, Hitachi Plant Technologies worked with Hitachi, Ltd. (HQ: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Representative Executive Officer & President: Hiroaki Nakanishi), which has local positioning technologies, and also with TCM CORPORATION, which has the technology for manufacturing various types of special vehicles.

Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle features

(1) No need to install traveling guides, and quick and flexible handling of layout changes
Many conventional AGVs require some kind of traveling guide to be installed along the route, such as embedded guide wires, magnetic tape, and reflectors. This in turn means that additional installation work will be required for positioning and markings (*1). The Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle automatically creates an electronic map as the vehicle moves around an area. Using a PC to set the course enables the vehicle to move automatically. For that reason, this system realizes quick and flexible handling of layout changes on the production or logistics site after the vehicle is introduced.

Notes:

*1
Markings: Lines that need to be drawn on the surface of an object for construction and machining work.

(2) Functions enable the vehicle to avoid obstacles on the route
With conventional AGVs, if there are obstacles along the route, the vehicle's transport task is interrupted and it remains suspended on the spot until the obstacle is removed. When the Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle detects an obstacle, it sends an audio alert stating that an obstacle needs to be removed, and if the obstacle has not been removed after a certain period of time, the vehicle can avoid the obstacle and continue moving.

(3) Effective in clean rooms
Guidance systems that use guide wires and magnetic tape detect magnetic fields and issue control signals, so these cannot be used in areas with steel plates or other magnetic substances. Because Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicles move autonomously based on information provided on an electronic map, they can even move over the floor gratings in clean rooms. Moreover, traveling guides don't need to be installed, which prevents dust due to construction from being generated in clean rooms. Layout changes to the route are made by computer, which eliminates the need to take any special measures.

(4) Laser distance sensor safety features allow for higher traveling speeds
The Autonomous Automatic Guided Vehicle uses laser distance sensors for guidance combined with a safety sensor that slows down or stops the vehicle depending on the distance to an obstacle. This system can detect obstacles at far distances when moving at high speeds, and can detect obstacles at close distances when moving at slower speeds. Consequently, it can set safe distances for given speeds and enables travel at higher speeds.

Order summary

Order originator Major glass manufacturer
Type IC-T series (Movable load: Approx. 4 tons)
Order placed August 2010
Delivery scheduled for November 2010

Specifications

Model IC-T series IC-F series IC-P series
Type Unit load type Fork type Tow type
Guidance system Map generation and location recognition system
Movable load (kg) 30 to 4,000 1,000 2,000
Traveling speed (km/h) 3.6 (Maximum 7.2(*2)) 3.6 3.6
Traveling pattern Forward, backward, side-to-side, turning, spin turning, diagonal Forward, turning Forward, turning
Charging systems Manual battery replacement, automatic battery replacement, automatic charging
Battery Lead-acid battery, lithium ion battery
Communication systems Optical data transmission, SS wireless signals
Operating conditions General indoor environment (with temperatures between 0 and 40°C, 20 to 80% humidity, no condensation.)

Notes:

*2
The maximum 7.2 km/h assumes that people are separated from the automatic guided vehicle, and that there are no people on the automatic guided vehicle route in order to ensure the safety of people and the vehicle.

Major applications

Machinery and equipment production lines Pharmaceutical production lines Warehouse distribution centers Semiconductor and LCD production lines Food production lines Mail/online order distribution centers, etc.

Contacts

Katsuhiro Taniguchi
Mechatronics Group
Hitachi Plant Technologies, Ltd.
Tel: +81-3-5928-8082

E-mail: katsuhiro.taniguchi.ak@hitachi-pt.com


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