What links Quaker Oats®, Gatorade® and Lurpak® butter to Scottish hospitals? The unexpected answer might be that the companies behind them are now benefiting from substantial efficiency savings through JBT’s automated guided vehicle (AGV) systems. Manufactured in the US – as well as the UK for Europe and Asia – the AGV units remove repetitive and wasteful work practices enabling companies to redeploy resources more effectively.
However, the system is not just benefitting big players in the market. More affordable AGV units are now available in the form of the JBT JayBoT™, which can aid companies seeking to remove costly, labor-intensive tasks from the production and supply process.
As Mark Longacre, JBT’s marketing manager for automated systems, explains, the JayBoT and other units in the range are operator-free, robotic forklift trucks that are being successfully used in manufacturing plants and warehouses to automate the routine movement of materials.
“More affordable AGV units are now available in the form of the JBT JayBoT, which can aid companies seeking to remove costly, labor-intensive tasks”
“Typically we have AGVs doing the work, guided by system management software which gives the commands while talking to customers’ inventory management software, meaning we know what orders have to processed that day and what material movements to make,” he says.
“Sometimes the infrastructure required in an AGV system can be costly and we often have customers who just want to try automating a small part of their plant with one or two vehicles. “The JayBot takes some of the intelligence out of the software and puts it in the vehicle, so they can operate standalone on simpler applications, which makes them more affordable as an entry point into automation and for smaller companies who require simpler, A-B movements.”
“We’re looking to deliver a return on investment – a quick and substantial payback – in typically under two years.”
JBT has successfully supplied AGV solutions to PepsiCo Group’s Quaker, Tropicana and Gatorade division, as well as the world’s largest supplier of organic dairy products, Arla Foods. Outside of beverage and food processing, JBT has delivered AGV solutions to the automotive industry, pharmaceutical facilities, general manufacturing and warehousing, while it also made headlines when it supplied units to the Forth Valley NHS hospital in Scotland.
Longacre explains that JBT aims to deliver a quick and substantial payback on investment in under two years, primarily through helping companies redeploy labor to where it can better add value to manufacturing processes.
“We deliver labor savings, allowing customers to redeploy labor to where they can add value”
“Most of what we’re delivering to customers is labor savings,” he says. “We think of that as allowing them to redeploy labor to where they can create more value in their process. Having people on a forklift moving products from one end of the plant to the other all day does not add value to the product. In reality, it can affect safety and often does. People get bored and careless and make mistakes, which can create accidents and personal injury, as well as plant and product damage.”
One of JBT’s biggest installations to date was with the PepsiCo group, focusing on automatic trailer loading after the product has been bottled, case-packed and stretch-wrapped.
JBT also has a special vehicle type designed to work with the JBT batch retort sterilizer, loading and unloading trays for in-can sterilization. “We take products after they have been filled and sealed and deliver them to the sterilizer and pick them up after they have completed the process,” adds Longacre.