No more pushing and pulling with containers at care laundry Rentex. The company uses agv’s, or automatic guided vehicles. The green trolleys drive around the laundry in Bolsward (NL) independently.
After Rentex had a time analysis performed, general manager sir Mulder concluded, that his employees spend a large part of their time, almost forty percent, moving containers. “It’s positive to automate that process. Now the staff stays in place and the agv’s move the containers.”
A route is marked out on the floor of the packing department. With a long sticker and a number of chips on the floor, the agv finds its way through the hall. The cart itself knows when to stop. An employee attaches containers or loads products and presses the green button. On its own, the cart moves on to the next stop. At the end of its round, the containers are disconnected and driven to dispatch.
The use of agv’s has three major advantages for Rentex. First, the company saves on labor costs. The same work can be done by a lot fewer people. In the long run, automation prevents absenteeism. “Employees have less trouble with their arms and the number of physical complaints decreases,” Mulder says.
Finally, the agv’s enforce structure. “There are now eight trolleys with three containers each behind them. So there are a maximum of 24 containers in the hall. There used to be maybe a hundred.” The carts stop only at the marked spots. This does not create unwanted congestion or delays.
As with any change, employees had to “see it first then believe it” before everyone was on board, the general manager said. Employees were concerned that there would be too few containers in the packing department and that with fewer people, it would not be possible to pack the same number of products. “After a week, everyone was won over. It saves a lot of time and people were happy that they don’t have to do as much physically demanding work.”
Rentex uses agv’s from Movexx. The system is easy to install, as no major modifications to the laundry are required. According to Mulder, it is easy to start with such a system: “You don’t have to break open the floor, just put some stickers. And if you do want to change the system, you remove the stickers from the floor and lay out the route differently.” The cart travels at about 4 kilometers per hour and automatically stops for obstacles. If the battery is low, the cart stops by itself in front of the rack of batteries and waits for it to be replaced. With a simple push of a button, the agv takes off again.