Volvo Car Corporation has increased productivity at its body-in-white plant in Olofstrm, Sweden, thanks to a fleet of AGVs operating under the Kollmorgen NDC8 control platform.
Sales Challenge And Results
As part of an upgrade to its logistics flow, Volvo wanted to replace 13 of its aging AGVs. As a given, the new AGVs needed to be of a technically higher specification, easier to program, simpler to deploy, and more flexible than the models they were replacing.However, a key challenge was to replace the old AGVs and integrate the new models without any interruption to Volvos production.
The AGVs based on the NCD8 control platform not only enabled this to be achieved but also allowed the original 13 units to be replaced one-by-one with just ten new models, whilst still giving Volvo plenty more scope to increase its productivity over time, using the old AGVs as a pool of reserve vehicles.
Kollmorgen won the order for the AGV control platform through its close relationship with AGV manufacturer Rocla and material handling solution integrator Swisslog, and thanks to the technical advantages of the NDC8 platform. Because it is equally applicable across a wide range of industries, it allows partner companies to develop solutions for any industry sector. This keeps all the costs associated with sales, project management, engineering and manufacturing to a minimum, and sources all the efforts involved in research & development, component supply and life cycle management.
Volvo contacted specialist logistics consultants and general contractors Swisslog to manage the upgrade.Rocla is Swisslogs partner for the development of AGVs, and the two companies drew up a technical specification for the AGVs and developed a strategy for the seamless upgrade. Kollmorgen was able to demonstrate that the NDC8 platform could meet or exceed all the requirements of the specification, and that the flexibility of the platform would make it simple to install AGVs into Volvos logistics flow one at a time, so meeting the requirements for minimum disruption to the companys productivity.
Volvos Olofstrom plant forms the very heart of its car manufacturing operations, where car body parts are molded and welded together at various stations. Production is driven by orders from Volvos assembly plant, requiring a free and flexible flow of materials between different storage areas and process stations.At the plant, AGVs have the role of transporting materials between stocks and the process stations, under the overall control of a host computer.
The NDC8 platform comprises six key elements: the AGV system controller, the vehicle controller, operator interfaces, navigation technology, AC and DC drives, and SW tools for programming, commissioning and service. For Volvo, a laser navigation system was implemented. Ease of programming made it simple to install each AGV to perform the same transport operations as the original wire-guided AGVs.
In the summer of 2004, the first two new AGVs were inserted into the existing system and two of the original units removed. The operation went without a hitch, and Volvo immediately saw an increased transport demand and was pleased that the AGV system could meet this demand for ramp-up, while still lowering the operating costs.
A further two AGVs were exchanged in early 2005, and two more in the winter of that year. In 2006, eight new AGVs were operational. Overall, the speed of the AGVs increased and the time for load handling was significantly reduced so much so only 10 AGVs were needed to replace the original 13.