Modernisation extends the service life of an existing AGV system

In 2002, when Rocla signed the contract to deliver automated guided vehicles to international packaging giant Tetra Pak, the company completed what was then the biggest AGV deal in its history. The deal included automation of seven factories and delivery of around a hundred AGVs to factories all over the world. These vehicles have now been in use for just over a decade, and Tetra Pak has decided to upgrade its AGV fleet to meet the demands of a modern production environment.

This solution provides the company with a cost-effective means to extend the service life of its AGV system.

‘The modernisation project has started at Tetra Pak’s factory in Arganda, Spain, where there are 20 AGVs in total. The vehicles are still in good condition externally, but they are in need of an upgrade because spare parts for their control system, for example, are no longer available,’ explains Sales Manager Jari Kätkytniemi.

The old system software and control based on ACC70 technology are to be replaced with a modern NDC8 platform.

The DC drive motors of the vehicles will also be replaced, with more efficient AC motors.

Occupational health and safety is another important aspect of the modernisation project. Thanks to the modernisation programme, Tetra Pak’s vehicles will also meet the stricter safety standards now entering into force.

‘The modernisation work itself will be carried out at Rocla’s Järvenpää factory. The project is being scheduled and planned such that the time the vehicles are out of service can be kept to a minimum,’ Kätkytniemi explains.

On-site installation will be completed alongside normal production, one vehicle at a time. Rocla’s installation team have designed a bespoke panel-upgrade solution, in which the components to be installed are attached to the new electricity panel. This allows the modernisation work to be completed in a matter of days, or a couple of weeks at most. This solution is possible because all AGVs originally delivered to Tetra Pak are of the same type and model. 

The new control system can be used to control both upgraded and original vehicles.

‘The modernisation programme offers Tetra Pak a cost-effective way to extend the service life of its AGV system. The project can be completed in stages, which allows the costs to be spread over several years. As a result, Tetra Pak gets a modern AGV system that will be almost as good as a new one,’ says Kätkytniemi.

The upgrade will improve the vehicles’ reliability and reduce maintenance needs and costs. In addition, the right spare parts will be easy to find.

‘We will use the same components that are used in Rocla’s new automated warehouse trucks, and the modernised AGVs will share a large number of parts with our AWTs,’ explains Kätkytniemi.

Another major benefit, made possible by modern WLAN technology, is that the experts at Rocla will have remote access to the system if necessary, which makes it easier for the Rocla Help Desk to assist with troubleshooting and user training.

Tetra Pak’s project is the largest AGV modernisation project currently in progress, but Kätkytniemi says that there is clearly a need for similar projects elsewhere.

‘Over the past few years, our clients have started to realise that modernisation is a cost-effective and quick way to upgrade an AGV system. The vehicles are of very high quality and have a long service life if upgraded,’ he says.

Rocla celebrates the 30th anniversary of its AGV systems this year: the company has been delivering AGV systems since 1983. In 2007, Rocla introduced to the market the world’s first modular, serially manufactured automated guided vehicle, which is based on the company’s automated warehouse truck concept. In 2010, the company introduced the ATX, an automated truck designed specifically for automated picking. It has increased the use of automated trucks in smaller facilities and, especially, for picking work.

Read more about Rocla AGV offering.