Driverless vehicles used in car factory

Manufacturing | Midlands | Technology


Driverless vehicles are being used to maximise output in a Coventry car factory.

Brose, which provides seat structure and window regulators to Jaguar, Land Rover, Nissan, and Toyota, is using the technology to improve efficiencies and minimise human error.

Brose has invested nearly £2 million over the last two years into Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to improve logistics in its factory in Colliery Lane. AGVs are expected to make more than 650,000 different journeys every year in seat production.

Travelling at one metre per second, the driverless vehicles will cover 67,000 kilometres per year, which is the equivalent of travelling around the earth 1.5 times. Typically, they are used where high volumes of repetitive material movements are required and where little or no human decision making is needed.

“The automotive sector is extremely demanding and there is a continuous need to produce parts quicker and react to fluctuating patterns in demand – logistics is crucial to us being able to achieve this,” explains Steve Wilkins, Managing Director of Brose UK.

“Coventry was chosen as one of the pilot locations due to the compelling business case we put forward for helping us to win future contracts.”

AGVs use laser reflectors for navigation and are programmed by CAD-based software that routes available paths and drop-off locations.

The driverless vehicles can be programmed to work alongside human counterparts on the same production line, depending on where there is a need for capacity, making them extremely flexible.

Steve Wilkins continued: “AGVs have little downtime and operate at a fixed rate so it is easier to plan operational activity. In addition, they are computer controlled, which eliminates human errors in terms of damage to the facility, spillage to inventory and improved safety of pedestrians.”

The AGVs are the latest in a long line of strategic investments in logistics by Brose at its Coventry facilities, including a state-of-the-art paint plant, tugger trains and a bespoke Transport Guidance System.

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