October 20, 2022
Vecna Robotics, which develops material handling automation solutions, has announced a major software release and hardware upgrades to its AFL-class autonomous forklift. The new features are aimed at optimizing material transport between other machinery and equipment, with specific focus on low-lift workflows.
In addition, the update supports several above-ground workflows, including inbound staging to automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) induction; delivering materials to ergonomic lift stands for work-in-process flows; and loading and extracting from robotic palletizers and stretch wrappers.
Vecna said that with 15% to 20% of warehouses utilizing robotic palletizers and stretch wrappers, AS/RS and other conveyor-fed automation for palletized loads, the need for more flexible material handling systems that can integrate with robotic packaging and storage systems will be likely to grow. Vecna added that these workflows typically account for 10 to 15% of activities in a warehouse, and up to 70% of manufacturing production time.
The Vecna AFL – with a capacity of up to 3,000 lbs and lift heights up to 60 inches – is designed to optimize work-in-process, packaging and finished goods workflows via autonomous material handling to and from conveyors, risers, and third-party automated or semi-automated equipment. The system utilizes Vecna’s Pivotal Command Center software to help maintain a greater-than-99% uptime.
“This upgrade to our AFL platform is a response to customer need to automate more workflows – including low-lift with conveyors and risers – in the midst of chronic labor shortages,” said Anthony Moschella, senior vice president of product management at Vecna Robotics. “The ability to coordinate autonomous material transport with other automated systems and common warehouse equipment is the first critical step in our mission to help warehousing and manufacturing re-balance their worker-robot mix and free up labor for more valuable tasks.”
Additional features of the software and hardware upgrade for the AFL include:
- Better forklift performance and vision with next-generation fork carriage sensor fusion, which supports enhanced smart payload identification capabilities, improved adjustments to misaligned pallets, and real-time remote camera views of the forks through Pivotal;
- Smoother navigation in tight spaces through a new compact bumper design;
- More flexible integration, including tablet UIs, APIs with warehouse management systems such as Manhattan and BlueYonder, and built-in barcode scanners to verify payloads;
- Advanced orchestration with dynamic mission planning and swapping, which allows Pivotal to immediately reroute and re-task robots as needed to deliver the right payload to the right location at the right time.
Vecna said it will be showcasing Vecna AFL at next week’s PACK Expo in Chicago. More details on the system are available here.