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A positive Agfa Graphics encouraged to expand their AGV system

Thursday, 16 January 2014 ( #650 )
The first AGV at Agfa Graphics had to be able to orientate in the dark.
The first AGV at Agfa Graphics had to be able to orientate in the dark.
Agfa Graphics in France has experience in Rocla's AGV system for nearly 10 years. They have expanded the system twice. Mr. Christian Roekens, who is in charge of production, has been very pleased with the system as it has worked impeccably. He advises those, who consider automation, to involve personnel in planning in an early phase. In that way also users are committed to the system. Committed personnel can devote their time to more demanding and pleasant tasks instead of monotonous, routine transfers. Also, using automation increases the safety of work premises. The Agfa-Gevaert Group develops, produces and distributes an extensive range of analog and digital imaging systems and IT solutions, mainly for the printing industry and the healthcare sector, as well as for specific industrial applications. Agfa-Gevaert has three focused business groups: Agfa Graphics, Agfa HealthCare, and Agfa Specialty Products. One of Agfa Graphics' manufacturing units is situated in Pont à Marcq in northern France. They have been manufacturing at this location for almost 80 years, since 1935. The first AGV had to be able to orientate in the dark In Pont à Marcq's they manufacture offset plates for printing industry. About 250 persons work in this historic factory of which about 150 persons in the production. Production works in three shifts during the week and in one shift during the weekend. Mr. Christian Roekens is responsible for the production and inner logistics. He acquainted himself with Rocla's AGV system almost 10 years ago for the first time as he purchased the first Rocla AGV in 2005. The automation of production has been done in phases.
Mr. Christian Roekens is responsible for the production and inner logistics at Agfa Graphics.
Mr. Christian Roekens is responsible for the production and inner logistics at Agfa Graphics.
"We wanted first to automate the roll transport from a stock into production machine that is situated in our dark room as earlier we handled films and they required dark space. This was almost ten years ago and at that time I heard about Rocla's AGVs. Our first AGV was delivered in 2005 and this project went very well", Mr. Roekens recalls. Rocla is one of the only AGV manufactures in the world that could provide a laser navigation that can orientate in dark and that can use lights that don't harm films. Also in an old factory building there are narrow routes. Earlier Agfa Graphics used cranes, and pallets had to be transported by man-operated warehouse trucks. This inflexible way of working was very difficult and caused problems. AGV was the ideal solution for that. "Our personnel were very happy that they don't have to load the crane anymore, as we had some difficulties when transporting pallets with manual trucks in the challenging narrow areas", Mr. Roekens explains.
Agfa Graphics expanded their AGV system. Now the need was to transport pallets in the main production area.
Agfa Graphics expanded their AGV system. Now the need was to transport pallets in the main production area.
An AGV that can handle different sizes of pallets Two years later Agfa Graphics wanted to expand the AGV system. As prior experience was good, it was easy to continue co-operation with Rocla. "The second AGV was delivered in 2007", Mr Roekens remembers. And two years later they needed to expand the system for the second time. Now the need was to transport pallets in the main production area. Agfa Graphichs uses different size of pallets, easily dozen of different sizes. An AGV must be able to adapt itself for transporting both wider and narrower pallets.
Also it's very important that an AGV puts the pallets exactly in the right spot in the production machine. Accuracy is a matter of weight. "Our newest AGV is a counterbalance AGV. Thanks to a counterbalance weight, it doesn't need support legs and can drive very close to the production machine", Mr. Roekens says. Positive feedback from personnel Personnel were involved with AGV projects and Mr. Roekens received very useful ideas from his co-workers. "For example, our people told me that transferring the empty pallets from the machine by hand is very hard. Earlier they had to create a stack of empty pallets using muscular power, which causes strain in upper body. Therefore we wanted the AGV to do this. Now our personnel don't want to work without AGVs," Mr. Roekens smiles. He advises those, who consider automation, to take personnel into planning in an early phase. In that way also users are committed into the system. "We asked superiors to give their opinions before deciding what the AGV must do", Mr. Roekens explains. The implementation of the last AGV system was extremely short: it happened almost in a week. "Our AGVs communicate with WiFi we have and it's very easy. We have a way to communicate directly to Rocla via internet if any problems arise", Mr. Roekens explains. And he concludes, that they are already considering about expanding the AGV system. For more information on Rocla's comprehensive AGV solutions please visit www.rocla-agv.com ROCLA OY
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