The iCart as a total manufacturing system solution
In this example assembly process a heavy base component is loaded to a fixture trolley attached to an iCart. The iCart then moves to a designated assembly station where components are assembled to the frame. Access is possible from all 4 sides. On completion of assembly the iCart moves to one of two test systems. If faulty it can return to one of the assembly stations if repairs are carried out there.
iCarts can also form a buffer area if sequenced delivery is required.
A second set of iCarts pick up the remaining components in batches of 10 from the supermarket area. These travel to the point of use in the assembly cell and swap automatically with the now empty parts trolley. The supermarket need not be directly next to the line. One supermarket or “Super Store” could feed multiple lines. In the same way the unload area need not be next to the line.
Cycle independent Operation
Not all assembly operations can be balanced to a common cycle time.
Many AGV cart systems operate on a simple loop basis. This can be a severe limitation as everything must queue in turn. This limits the utilisation of AGVs and forces a sequential route with cycle times limited to the slowest operation.
The diagram below shows how a cycle independent station can be set up where a station is set back from the main loop to allow traffic to pass by while work is being carried out in the station.
The iCart has a built in routing system so that the cycle independent station is only visited when this is required. Other iCarts will simply remain on the main loop.
The following diagram shows a method of replacing a typical conveyor system feeding work to and from operators for assembly. While a conveyor remains a good solution when cycle times at stations are very fast they become inefficient at longer cycle times and also provide barriers to movement of people and materials. Here 2 iCarts fitted with driven conveyor smart trolleys offer an efficient solution that is easy to expand or modify.