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Article Title

AGV Controlled FMS

Abstract

One of the key factors that prevent the implementation of Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) is the elaborate cost associated with the control software. In a FMS there is often a wide range of equipment such as personal computers Programmable Logical Controllers (PLCs), CNC Machines or robots, each of these having their own “intelligence” and library of data. Providing a means of communication between these individual controllers has traditionally been achieved using a Local Area Network (LAN). This proves more expensive when traditional manual operated machines have to be integrated into the system. The model described in this paper provides an alternative to the conventional use of a LAN in a FMS environment. In the design solution an Automatically Guided Vehicle (AGV) is used as both the materials handling unit and the communications line linking each station to the host controller. Communications between the AGV and peripheral equipment is achieved using a standard infrared data link, eliminating hard-wiring and network protocols. A simulation model has been developed to demonstrate the feasibility of such a system, using industrial data. The software package Witness is used to develop the simulation model. The objective from developing this simulation model is to test whether an AGV is capable of meeting the demands of such a scenario. The research undertaken aims to test this by modeling an existing factory layout. Using this layout and captured machining times and part routes, from the factory database, the feasibility of such AGV controlled production system is established. The model shows that such a system is plausible in a scenario where machine times are high and the distance between machines is large.

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