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KNAPP’s free-roaming shuttles are set to rival conveyors

Launched by KNAPP at this year’s CeMAT exhibition, Open ShuttlesTM are showing that they have the potential to revolutionise materials handling by replacing fixed lines of conveyor.

Featuring an über-cool, sleek design, Open ShuttlesTM are free-roaming, laser-guided mini AGVs. By keeping access ways free of traditional lines of fixed conveyor, KNAPP believes that Open ShuttlesTM could change the face of factories and distribution facilities over the coming years.

Designed specifically for handling cartons and containers, Open ShuttlesTM are considerably smaller and neater than typical AGVs, making them ideal for all kinds of lower-throughput transport tasks or to combine transport and picking tasks. The highly manoeuvrable vehicles excel in applications with repetitive movements of materials, especially when on-time delivery is critical. Explains Craig Rollason, Head of Sales and Marketing for KNAPP UK Ltd, "They are ideal for use in just-in-time environments – such as automotive production – or in processes where tracking of material is important, such as in the pharmaceutical industry where cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice) is essential. They are also perfect in manufacturing applications for delivering raw materials, transporting work-in-process, moving finished goods, removing scrap materials and supplying packaging items."

Manufactured to IP42 (Ingress Protection 42), the vehicles are splash-proof, making them suitable for applications in diverse industries. They can transport up to 40kg on level routes and up to 25kg on 20˚ inclines. Powered by nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, Open ShuttlesTM travel at speeds of up to 1.8 metres per second and a two-hour charge will give four hours of driving time.

Using laser navigation, the Open ShuttlesTM can roam freely about the factory or warehouse according to a digital map, which can be reconfigured with ease. The vehicle fleet management system assigns transport tasks, co-ordinates the shuttles and ensures that collisions are avoided. The system allows zones for various speeds to be integrated, as well as areas to be designated as no-go for specific – or all – shuttles. The system is easy to integrate with existing operations, even for complex transport networks. It is also totally scalable, while always maximising access routes for other vehicles and employees.

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