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RHC Supply Automated Guided Vehicle to GKN

12 May 2012

RHC Lifting has commissioned and supplied its first Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) to GKN Aerospace’s new state of the art composite wing structures manufacturing and assembly facility, near Bristol.

According to RHC, they designed, manufactured and commissioned the AGV, which is to be used to transport the wing spar mould tools to different manufacturing processes around the facility.  The AGV combined with the multi-latching crane system and vacuum lifting beams already installed by RHC Lifting gives GKN a complete solution to their material handling problems onsite.

RHC say this is their first AGV which utilises their industry experience and strong supplier relationships to help deliver the AGV. The AGV has an overall size of 9.2m x 1.1m x 0.5m, with a self-weight of 3.7ton, and has a lifting capacity of 10 tonnes. The AGV can move components around the factory floor up to speeds of 55m/min and is powered by sealed lead acid batteries which have the ability to operate the AGV continuously throughout a single 9 hour shift.  

RHC explains that the AGV is controlled by a trained operator via an Autec Dynamic FJM radio controller todrive, steer and lift. The 8 independently driven wheels mean that the AGV can move sideways and turn on the spot, allowing for precision positioning.

To remove human error and reduce the risk of damaging the wing spars, the AGV uses a number of ultra-sonic sensors located on the front, sides and rear to automatically position the AGV into the tool and autoclave.

The AGV is aligned to the tool manually, to the best of the operator’s judgment and the ultra-sonic sensors on the front and side of the AGV ensures that the AGV is automatically aligned as it enters the tool. Flags in the tool are used for the final stop position, to align with the 8 lift points and indexing sensors. The same process will be used for entry and alignment to the autoclave with a displacement laser sensor detecting flags in the autoclave for its various stop position.

The travel motion of the AGV remains manually operated from the Autec radio controller but is automatically set to a slow speed as the tool is entered and until it is cleared. A SICK Laser Scanner positioned on the front and the rear of the AGV is an anti-collision precaution, and cuts movement if an obstacle is seen.

The proximity indexing system automatically recognises which of the spar tools the AGV is entering and ensures that the alignment under the lifting points of the tool is correct. The Autec FJM radio transmitter also has data feedback to display the tool number for the operator to clearly see on a 2.7” display.

After the success of the first AGV, RHC say GKN has already placed the order for a second vehicle and there is provision for a further two vehicles in the future.

RHC Director, Philip Goodway, said “With this AGV, RHC Lifting has shown its ability to develop and produce another highly technical and customised material handing solution which matches GKN’s requirements and high standards.”





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