Phases of AGV implementation

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AGV implementation explained

Implementing an AGV system is a far-reaching process. This is the case not only because of the major impact it has on change within an organisation, but also because of the impact it has on the entire business operation both internally and externally. Implementing an AGV system is a sustainable process consisting of several phases. To give you the best possible information on this, we have put together a guide, explaining from A to Z the process of AGV implementation.

Phase 1

The first phase of AGV implementation

The first phase of AGV implementation can still be called very exploratory. Given that implementing an AGV system is a long-term investment, we pay a lot of attention to it. Plotting the location, mapping out all possible challenges and performing several calculations are, among other things, central to tackling this initial phase in the best possible way.

For us, this first phase consists of roughly five parts:

  1. Going through the submitted question.
  2. Analyse drawings from the warehouse.
  3. Site survey on location. 
  4. Drawing in the warehouse.
  5. After your approval, you will receive a budget quotation

1. Going through the submitted question

A request can come to us in different ways. Via the website, a request for AGV implementation lands in our inbox. This can start, for instance, by filling in the Quick scan. We are also often approached ‘spontaneously’ thanks to word-of-mouth advertising. All requests are handled confidentially and carefully and followed up as quickly as possible.

2. Analyse drawings from the warehouse

After an exploratory discussion about the potential customer's wishes and requirements, we ask for the details of the warehouse or warehouse. Based on these drawings, we can check the technical possibilities and formulate a possible solution in advance.

3. Site survey on location

In the third phase, we visit the intended site to map it out more clearly. Through the survey, the client's process is analysed to get a sharp focus on what we need to consider. Our eye for detail comes in handy here, as we pay attention to things like:

  • Are the pallets in proper condition?
  • Is there any chance of overflowing?
  • How heavy are the pallets?
  • Is there plastic film in front of the fork pockets?
  • Is the floor level and does it comply with DIN18202 part 4, for example?


Thinking along with the customer and high flexibility are important here. At an early stage
important choices are in fact already being made.

4. Drawing in the warehouse

After the site survey and the shared drawings, we get to work on plotting the warehouse. We do this so that we can make a clear and concrete calculation to calculate how many AGVs will be needed to meet the customer's wishes and requirements. We often do this in 2D and/or 3D so that we can be sure the AGVs can make the turns and we can rule out other unexpected setbacks.

5. Sending an offer

Once the calculations have been made, we will provide you with an initial quotation. This quotation will include:

Initial data and calculations
This document summarises the current situation in one overview so that both parties have a clear picture of what may be ahead. It also takes circumstances into account. For example, is there a warehouse management system or
only one ERP available? Do the floors need to be adapted? Is there sufficient space for movement?

Proposed solution
AGV implementation can seem somewhat abstract, especially in the early stages. With a detailed explanation of the solution we have in mind, even the exact operation of the software becomes more tangible.

Scope of supply and economic quotation
A comprehensive overview regarding prices and products.

Offer acceptance
The plan is followed by an acceptance and signing of the offer, from then on the collaboration is a fact.

AGV International provides an indicative timeline of the process so that an initial picture of the duration and impact of such a project already emerges. From this point on, the next phase starts where the project will actually take shape in practice. 

Phase 2

The midpoint of AGV implementation

Whereas the first phase within this process can still be called completely non-committal and exploratory, the second phase is a lot more serious in nature. Organisations have now officially made the choice to implement an AGV system within the organisation in order to achieve results. The middle stage of AGV implementation is mainly characterised as the most intensive stage, because the implementation of the system is now becoming really concrete and soon organisation-wide first steps are being made.

This phase consists of five parts:

  1. Official purchase order (P/O) from customer
  2. Measurement visit
  3. Meetings with the client project team
  4. FAT (Factory Acceptance Test)
  5. Delivery of the AGVs

1. Official purchase order (P/O) from customer

After going through the application and also the quotation in detail, several customer visits and team meetings are often required, which follow. In these meetings, we discuss everything mentioned in the quotation. These include pricing, the number of AGVs needed and the transparent calculation for this, the number of charging stations and which mile stones we will agree on. We also make an initial estimate of the expected delivery times. Once all open discussion points have been discussed and the customer finally makes the decision to work with us, they send an official purchase order and we provide an order confirmation on which we then place the internal order with our manufacturer.

2. Measuring visit and checking all dimensions in the drawings one last time.

Just before the order is complete, we deal with a few final questions from the manufacturer, who from then on can also fully participate in the project. After we have dealt with all the questions, we go on a measurement visit to the customer. During this visit, we measure for example
final check again the actual distances between columns and see if they are all correctly mentioned in the drawings we received from the customer. We also take the time during this visit to answer any questions from the manufacturer. Examples might include how much distance is between the pallet racking and the floor at the pick-up locations/expedition areas. A final check on clearance heights of corridors etc.

3. Meetings with the client's project team

Once this is implemented comes one of the most important parts of the whole project. Together with the client, we ensure that an implementation team is appointed. Important stakeholders within the company such as, for example, staff from the IT department, operational managers and shift leaders are informed early on that automated vehicles will soon be driving around the shop floor. If this is not done early and widely enough, chances are that the implementation will be a lot more difficult. Because many people do not like change, natural resistance always arises. We need to remove this together by discussing and fine-tuning all the details. It is therefore extremely important to explain as early as possible in the process, also on the shop floor, to all those involved what to expect. After all, they will soon be the ‘carriers’ of the AGV system.

4. FAT

Once the AGVs are ready at our manufacturer, we go to the factory with some customer stakeholders to carry out Factory Acceptance Tests. Here, all technical functionalities and specifications are checked. This includes the driving of the AGVs to the chargers and specific dimensions. We will also check certain functionalities that are extremely important for the correct operation of the system.

5. Delivery of the AGVs

After completion and approval of the FAT list, the autonomous vehicles are put on transport. For this, we have selected professional transporters because the delivery of AGVs needs to be done with professional accuracy. After all, there are quite a few valuable and at the same time vulnerable components on the vehicles. Naturally, these need to remain 100% undamaged.

Phase 3

The installation phase of AGV implementation

The third and therefore final phase of the AGV implementation mainly reflects that implementing an AGV system is also a very sensitive process, in which various aspects need to be taken into account. Apart from the fact that in this final phase a lot of attention is paid to installation-technical issues, it also remains a realistic scenario that other aspects need to be tackled in the long run in order to get and keep the system properly operational.

This final phase consists of five parts:

  1. Commissioning
  2. SAT (Site Acceptance Testing)
  3. Babysitting
  4. Handover
  5. Service and maintenance

1. Commissioning

Commissioning is one of the most important and challenging parts of the project and consists of many operations. Commissioning is literally translated as putting the AGV system into operation. As a matter of course, AGV systems must be commissioned in the best possible way, with only the equipment after delivery, nothing can be realised without the entire software installation.

‘Commissioning in AGV projects is the process of planning, documentation, installation, testing, adjustment, confirmation and training to ensure that the completed project is fully functional and meets the client's requirements.’

During production of the AGVs, we ensure that all reflectors are hung exactly as the reflector layout received from our manufacturer indicates. This allows the installation to immediately start reading and learning this ‘reflector folder’ upon receipt of the AGVs. If all reflectors are correctly positioned, the AGVs can already drive around completely independently and correctly after reading the map thanks to laser technology combined with odometry (wheel revolutions which are precisely measured by an encoder). Once this all goes well, we can proceed with the installation and with teaching each pallet position to ensure that no errors occur here. All other PU/DO
(pick-up/drop-off) positions in-learned.

In summary, in the commissioning phase of the AGV implementation, we take care of:

  • Software installation
  • Hanging up the reflectors
  • Installation and in-learning pallet positionswith only the equipment after delivery, nothing can yet be realised without the entire software installation.

2. SAT (Site Acceptance Test)

During commissioning, there are often a number of issues that are not quite smooth. For these issues, an issue list is made and processed point by point, to make the process run as smoothly as possible towards the SAT. The SAT is therefore also a final check of a pre-agreed period where the system has to meet the pre-agreed and feasible requirements as well as possible. If executed properly, this is the final point of the entire AGV commissioning phase and the customer is satisfied with how the system has been commissioned.

3. Babysitting

Once the SAT has been taken, there is really nothing left to do but to let the system work as many hours and therefore metres as possible. During babysitting, one AGV International employee monitors the proper functioning of the AGVs and makes sure nothing goes wrong while performing all the necessary actions. The system is already working at full capacity at this stage, babysitting is just a final check and support to make sure everything is going well.

Babysitting is also important to allow employees working manually around the system to get used to the AGVs, the onboarding phase of AGV implementation. Employees cannot, for example, quickly drop pallets on the AGV route in between or quickly pass the AGVs. These situations are less likely to happen if someone from our team is around during the initial period to check the correct operation of the system.

4. Handover

After several weeks of babysitting are over, it is time for the official handover of the AGV system. This is also often a final milestone; the customer now officially owns the system. From this point on, the project is fully delivered.

5. Service and maintenance

Through parameters and software, the system has formed its digital reality, which is of course close to reality. You can imagine that if an AGV does around 4,000 to as many as 6,000 running hours a year, certain parts will wear out. Think of chains, tyres, bearings, etc. To ensure that the AGV continues to behave correctly, there is an option to periodically calibrate certain activities. This keeps the system functioning correctly while certain wear and tear takes place.

We draw up an SLA (service level agreement) with our customers, which ensures constant and guaranteed deployment of the entire AGV system by adhering to previously agreed KPIs.

Maintaining AGVs proactively and periodically ensures optimal system deployment.

Key-Take aways

At AGV International, we value transparency and flexibility. An AGV implementation is a big change being implemented within an organisation. Therefore, we feel it is important to inform everyone about it in a transparent way to really add value for the future. Apart from the fact that we have listed each phase within this project in this document for you, we have also listed some important key-take aways below:


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

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