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Fonterra to use automated guided vehicles by Dematic

By Jessie Chiang
Wed 18 May 2022

Fonterra is advancing its warehouse operations at its manufacturing facility in Edendale with new automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from Dematic.

Dematic says the new AGVs feature software that improves useability and allows Fonterra to better manage operations throughout the facility.

This includes transporting feed pallets of raw materials into production subsystems and handling finished outbound pallets. 

Fonterra has operated with AGVs since 2009 to automate time-consuming and highly repetitive tasks within its manufacturing facility. Dematic says these new AGVs will continue to prevent bottlenecks and create a streamlined process where products can flow seamlessly without manual handling.

Dematic says the AGVs will work to manage three core activities at the Edendale manufacturing facility:

  • transferring and dispensing replenished consumables
  • stacking and de-stacking empty and pre-filled product pallets 
  • stacking and transferring finished goods to storage areas and conveyors before shipping

Dematic general manager of sales, mobile and automation Tony Raggio says the AGV system is tailor-designed to navigate any production and warehouse space with a laser guidance system.

He says it also uses onboard hazard detection to avoid collisions.

“This high-end navigation allows them to move around a facility optimally and safely,” says Raggio.

“Rotating laser scanners mounted on top of the AGVs measure angles and distances to reflectors mounted on the surrounding walls within the facility. The AGVs then calculate a position based on this information, together with speed and steer encoders to operate with a repeatable accuracy of plus or minus 5mm.”

Dematic says its AGVs work as driverless, fully automated forklifts, each with a load capacity of 3,500 kilograms and a lift height of 4.0 metres.

The machines are controlled by Dematic software that uploads data to the AGVs before they set off on daily tasks.

Dematic says its AGVs operate with a high level of autonomy and provide 24/7 service to increase output and deliver a quick return on investment. Individual AGVs are exchangeable with each other to ensure redundancy in system operation. 

The company says the machines eliminate human errors that can cause costly damages and mistakes in picking and loading.

Dematic says AGVs can also drive themselves onto charging floor plates at times of inactivity to be charged using the automated opportunity charging function.

Dematic is the leading supplier of AGVs in Australia and New Zealand, having supplied over 700 AGVs in upwards of 120 projects across the region. Dematic AGVs are designed, engineered, programmed, and manufactured in Sydney, Australia.

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