Automation of internal logistics processes

Automating complex processes to increase efficiency

Over the years, we at AGV International have had the pleasure of completing many projects. In none of these cases was there a ready-made solution because every situation is different. Solutions are tailored to the environment and the desired working method. This was also the case for Hoek Group's automation problem for its premises on the Rijnsburg auction grounds. While designing possible solutions, automation and mechanisation were centred around the ‘goods to man’ principle. This principle is rapidly gaining popularity as it offers solutions to common problems for many organisations.

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Goods-to-man realised through automation

The ‘goods to man’ principle means that goods no longer have to be searched for in the warehouse by employees, but instead come to the employees. This is done by automated vehicles. The implementation of these so-called AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and RGVs (Rails Guided Vehicles) has some hefty benefits that will be recognisable to any company:

  • Facilitate a safer working environment: Internal transport is often done by workers with electronic trolleys. Reducing their use reduces the number of accidents.
  • More efficient allocation of manpower: Workers are engaged in work that requires a human eye. The simple, often repetitive tasks are done by a machine.
  • Reducing need for workers: The labour market is scarce, good workers are hard to find. Automation means fewer workers are needed to cope with the same production.
  • Improving stock management: stock can be better managed by one system and its location in the warehouse is always clear.

Situation at Hoek Group

The situation at Hoek Group is complex and extensive. We often see that this can cause a reluctant attitude. Hoek Group looks at this differently. Ruben Hoek says: ‘When automating systems, what is on paper can be different from what is ultimately reality. A lot of water flows through the Rhine before teething problems are ironed out. But you have to decide at some point to just start.’

Automation is often a process of trial and error, restraint would only delay and delay it. So said, so done. Hoek Group has improved its logistics by implementing automation plans in internal transport. This is something many companies still use manned electric tractors for. Automatic trucks and a sorting plant have taken over this work.

Hoek Group took our advice and chose rail-guided vehicles, also known as RGVs. These RGVs are of the ‘low transporter’ type and have the advantage of being able to carry two auction carts at the same time. The use of AGVs was considered, however, this idea was quickly rejected as it involved more complexity and unnecessary operations.

The RGVs operate in their own corridors within a restricted area. When designing such an area, a combination of efficiency and safety is sought. The headlands are freely accessible for employees to carry out their work. Employees can therefore get along well with this system.

Safety systems are built in to ensure that collisions in a corridor are prevented. These systems ensure that a vehicle comes to a stop when someone does need to walk into an aisle. Streamlined cooperation with companies across the industry helps make an automation process a success. Partners like MHS Houten, Machinefabriek van Rijn, IM Innovating and Actemium are invaluable in complex projects like the one at Hoek Group.

The role of automation towards the future

Ruben Hoek is an entrepreneur with his eyes on the horizon. He says: ‘My goal is to automate more and more of the manual work. The shortage in the labour market continues and, ultimately, automation is the way for us to control costs. For now, not everything can be automated. It is not easy to transfer the barrels from the auction carts to the convoy lane.’ AGV International fully concurs. For any modern business, automation should play a role in the management of the business. It is the answer to problems we face today.

Automation can start small and eventually grow into entire parts of a chain. The benefits are clear and the success stories are piling up. Are you unsure about the effects of automation on your organisation? Or are you unsure where to start? AGV International will be happy to advise you on the best approach. Every situation is unique, so tailor-made advice is a good start.


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AGV international - eigenaar - Tom - Broeder
Tom Broeder
Managing Director AGV International B.V.

Get in touch

AGV international - eigenaar - Tom - Broeder
Tom Broeder
Managing Director AGV International B.V.