Vecna Robotics, a specialist in material handling automation solutions, has unveiled what it describes as “a major software release and hardware upgrades” to its AFL-class autonomous forklift.
The new capabilities expand the company’s reach within warehouse and factory floors by optimizing material transport between other machinery and equipment, with specific focus on low-lift workflows.
The update supports numerous above-ground workflows including: inbound staging to AS/RS induction; delivering materials to ergonomic lift stands for work-in-process flows; and loading and extracting from robotic palletizers and stretch wrappers.
The warehouse automation market is expected to double over the next five years.
With 15-20 percent of warehouses currently using robotic palletizers and stretch wrappers, automated storage and retrieval systems, and other conveyor-fed automation equipment for palletized loads, the need for flexible material handling systems that can seamlessly integrate with robotic packaging and storage systems will only continue to grow.
These workflows can account for 10-15 percent of activities in a typical warehouse and up to 70 percent of manufacturing production time.
Vecna AFL – with a 3,000 lb capacity and lift heights up to 60 inches – was designed to optimize work-in-process, packaging and finished goods workflows via autonomous material handling to and from conveyors, risers and third-party automated or semi-automated equipment.
The system can improve efficiency and reduce material handling costs by up to 30 percent for most common workflows while maintaining greater than 99 percent uptime via Vecna’s Pivotal Command Center.
Anthony Moschella, SVP of product management at Vecna Robotics, says: “This upgrade to our AFL platform is a response to customer need to automate more workflows – including low-lift with conveyors and risers – in the midst of chronic labor shortages.
“The ability to coordinate autonomous material transport with other automated systems and common warehouse equipment is the first critical step in our mission to help warehousing and manufacturing re-balance their worker-robot mix and free up labor for more valuable tasks.”
Detailed features of the major release and hardware upgrade on the AFL include:
- Better forklift performance and vision with next-gen fork carriage sensor fusion that supports enhanced smart payload identification capabilities, improved adjustments to misaligned pallets, and real-time remote camera views of the forks through Vecna’s Pivotal Command Center
- Smoother navigation in tight spaces with new compact bumper design
- More flexible integration mechanisms including tablet UIs, APIs with leading WMS systems like Manhattan and BlueYonder, and built-in barcode scanners for payload verification
- Advanced orchestration with dynamic mission planning and swapping that allows Pivotal to immediately reroute and re-task robots as needed to deliver the right payload to the right location at the right time