AGVs keep the PPE moving during the COVID-19 pandemic

St-Sulpice Switzerland, October 07, 2020 – The COVID-19 crisis has focussed public attention on the role that hospitals and healthcare professionals play in treating those infected by the virus. Working within strict social distancing guidelines and limited staff has strained the resources of some of the support staff including internal logistics suppliers.

This is why an increasing number of hospitals around the world are reaping the benefits of investment in automated guided vehicles (AGVs). 

A modern hospital or clinic handles a huge amount of internal transportation daily. A 200-bed hospital transports an average of six tons of materials per day over a total distance of about 60 km, while an 800-bed hospital can handle up to 27 tons of materials, covering a distance of about 800 km. By utilising an AGV logistics system these movements can be handled more efficiently, freeing up valuable resources for medical activities.

One hospital in Garbagnate Milanese, Italy, for example, employs AGVs to automate these processes. The 57,000 m2 facility has over 500 beds and the backend logistics are handled by 12 AGVs that transport goods to 147 reception stations throughout the hospital.

The quality of transport in healthcare is essential, in order to safeguard the integrity of the materials carried, ensuring a high level of hygiene and assuring the health of patients.  One company that has been supporting healthcare facilities automate their logistics since 2012 is Italy-based Oppent, with its EvoCart series of mobile robots, specifically developed for hospitals and medical centres. These vehicles can handle food, laundry, waste, sterilisation, pharmacy, and general supplies, including ensuring that vital personal protection equipment (PPE) is in the right places at the right time during the current pandemic. Oppent has managed handling in more than 20 healthcare facilities. 

Oppent’s bi-directional mobile robots have a programmable speed of 0.10 m/s to 2.0 m/s and respect the safety regulations ISO 3691-4. Their movements are controlled by Autonomous Navigation Technology (ANT®), by BlueBotics, which uses natural structures in the environment—such as walls or furniture—as references, to ensure each vehicle knows where exactly it is. This approach means an AGV installation does not require expensive infrastructure changes, such as inductive wires being laid in the floor, or triangulation reflectors on the walls, in order to navigate effectively. 

The AGVs are quickly installed with ANT® lab tool suite and modifications to routes are even simpler. As a result, installations are simple and economical to set up and maintain, whether a single automated guided vehicle or a large fleet. A specific built-in safety system using specific certified laser scanners can identify any obstacles along the path and adjust the movement of the vehicle, with the AGVs autonomously handling obstacles either by adapting their speed to avoid emergency situations (path following) or moving around them (obstacle avoidance).

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About BlueBotics

BlueBotics aims to become the reference in autonomous navigation with the mission to enable the mobility of vehicles for the automation in the professional use market.

The company is now active in two segments:

  • Industrial automation – BlueBotics proposes ANT®, its innovative navigation solution.
  • Service robotics – The company proposes engineering services based on its expertise in mobile robotics with standard platforms, feasibility studies, custom designs, and dedicated developments to enable new customer applications.

Roboteq Launches Enhanced Sensor for Guiding Robotic Vehicles along Invisible Magnetic Tracks

Scottsdale, AZ, January 4, 2017 – Roboteq, Inc (www.roboteq.com) introduces a new magnetic guide sensor capable of detecting and reporting the position of a magnetic field along its horizontal axis. The sensor is intended for line following robotic applications, using adhesive magnetic tape to form a track guide on the floor.

Measuring only 165 x 35 x 35mm, the MGSW1600 is built into a rugged, watertight, all-metal enclosure. It uses an 8-pin waterproof M12-type connector for its power supply and IO signals.

The sensor uses advanced signal processing to accurately measure its lateral distance from the center of the track, with millimeter resolution, resulting in nearly 160 points end to end. Tape position information can be output in numerical format on the sensor’s RS232, CANbus or USB ports. The position is also reported as a 0 to 3V analog voltage output and as a variable PWM output. Additionally, the sensor supports a dedicated MultiPWM mode allowing seamless communication with all Roboteq motor controllers using only one wire.

The sensor is primarily used to steer Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs), moving material on factory floors. However, its unique sensitivity and accuracy opens a world of new application opportunities, such as automatic shelf replenishing in supermarkets, patient transport in hospitals, stage theater props, or rail-less tramways.

Compared to other guiding techniques, magnetic guides are totally passive and therefore easy to lay and modify. The tape creates an invisible field that is immune to dirt and unaffected by lighting conditions. The magnetic track can be totally hidden under any non-ferrous flooring material, such as linoleum, tiles, or carpet.

Roboteq provides drawings, How-To videos and software free of charge for building Magnetic Track Guided mobile robots. Roboteq’s RoboAGVSim is a software package that lets the user develop and simulate such robots.

The sensor will detect and manage up to 2-way forks and can be instructed to follow the left or right track using commands issued via the serial, CAN or USB ports. All of the sensor’s operating parameters and commands are also accessible via its CAN bus interface.

In addition to detecting a track to follow, the sensor will detect and report the presence of magnetic markers. Markers are pieces of tape of opposite magnetic polarity that may be positioned on the left or right side of the track. The sensor is equipped with four LEDs for easy monitoring and diagnostics.

The sensor incorporates a high-speed, Basic-like scripting language that allows users to add customized functionality to the sensor. A PC utility is provided for configuring the sensor, capture and plot the sensor data on a strip chart recorder, and visualize in real time the magnetic field as it is “seen” by the sensor.

The sensor firmware can be updated in the field to take advantage of new features as they become available.

The MGSW1600 is available now to customers worldwide at $595 in single quantities. Product information and software can be downloaded from the company’s web site at https://www.roboteq.com/index.php/roboteq-products-and-services/magnetic-guide-sensors

Roboteq sells adhesive magnetic tape of 25mm and 50mm width, in 50 meter rolls. These are available from our online store.

A 2 minutes video presentation of the MGSW1600 can be viewed at:http://www.youtu.be/Hg3ToqLGqPY

A demonstration video of the RoboAGVSimulator can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3r_vB-9433Q&t=14s

Roboteq’s Magnetic Guide Technology is used by the World’s finest AGV and Mobile Robot manufacturers. Below are some Customer videos showing Roboteq’s sensor in action :

Aristeril – Spain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_R7gnSA5qI

ASI Technologies – USA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjcbox8z9A0

Divel – Canada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Da_FIXaPiRw

DTA – Spain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEnIHanKGmg

Ideasparq – Malaysia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6tr4okyCLc

Tekn0 – USA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM2t-ddph8Q