Power(train) to the people
Technological advancements have become an everyday part of life and the Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) isn’t falling behind. The company has installed a technological first at its Uitenhage manufacturing plant, in the Eastern Cape – an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) system.
An AGV is a mobile robot that follows markers or wires in the floor, or uses vision or lasers. These units are most often used in industrial applications to move materials around a manufacturing facility or a warehouse.
VWSA states that the AGV system, located at the Engine Sub-Assembly area in Final Assembly, has replaced the traditional roller conveyor, dramatically improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the production process.
But this AGV differs from older AGV systems, which are battery-powered and need to be docked in a charging station, at random intervals, before being re-introduced into the production line. The Uitenhage-based manufacturing plant’s latest techno tool gets around by following induction cables under the floor. Two of these cables are also used to charge the unit, so it doesn’t have to take an “unexpected tea break”.
VWSA says that the AGV system was installed in preparation for the assembly of new engines and has already improved the lives of operators working in that area. “The biggest of these improvements is in the area of ergonomics,” explains David Powels, managing director of VWSA.
“There is now greater accessibility to the engine and gearbox, from all sides, as it is on a turn-table. This allows it to rotate to suit the operator. There is also a lifting table on top, making it possible to accommodate the different heights of operators (the old conveyor meant operators had to climb on steel platforms),” Powels concludes.