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The global market for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) is set to grow at a spectacular rate over the next decade, presenting manufacturers in this sector with great development opportunities.

Increasing demand for the automation of material handling processes, across all major industrial sectors, is the driving force behind the rapid growth of the AGV market. Due to their importance to a large number of industries, AGVs must comply with increasingly strict requirements for product safety, reliability and market access, many of which we present in this article.

Automated Guided Vehicles

AGVs are electric motor vehicles that are be pre-programmed to autonomously complete variable tasks, such as path selection, collision avoidance and reaching a destination. They provide significant logistical advantages though their ability to manage material flows automatically. For manufacturers wishing to increase productivity and expand production plants, AGVs represent the best solution to manage complex logistical structures, to reduce operational costs and improve turnaround times.

Controlled by computers through built-in microprocessors, without the need for conveyors and pulleys, AGVs use a combination of position feedback and guidance systems to control the path of the vehicle and guide it to its predefined destination. The guidance systems can be of different types:

  • Wire guided
  • Optical
  • Infrared
  • Laser

Furthermore, AGVs also incorporate specific routing systems that ensure the vehicle is constantly maneuvered in the right direction.

Specialized Product Safety and Certification Requirements

The complex systems and components that enable AGVs to increase a plant’s efficiency and decrease costs require precise attention to detail during the manufacturing process. Furthermore, AGVs are often deployed to work alongside humans, therefore their safety and reliability must be rigorously tested.
 
AGV manufacturers need to make sure their units meet not only the requirements and regulations covering traditional industrial machinery, but also the specialized regulations covering the use of wireless technologies, batteries and safety-critical components.

The tables below provide an overview of the current EU and US regulatory requirements covering AGVs as whole as well as the requirements for some of the most critical components.

Table 1. General Requirements For AGVs

Application Applicable directive Standards applied Remark 
AGV for general industrial environments MD 2006/42/EC 2006/42/EC Annex I Reference standards but not harmonized under MD: EN 1525
EN ISO 3691-4
EN ISO 3691-7
EN 1175-1  For electrical systems of AGV 
EN ISO 12100:2010  Risk assessment 
ATEX 2014/34/EU EN 1755  For potentially explosive atmospheres 
EMC
2014/30/EU
EN 61000-6-1
EN 61000-6-3 
For residential, commercial and light-industrial environments 
EN 61000-6-2
EN 61000-6-4 
For industrial environments 
For USA
ANSI/ITSDF B56.5-2012  US standard 

Table 2. Requirements for Wireless Components

Application Applicable directive  Standards applied   Remark
WIFI RED test 2014/53/EU Depends on frequency FCC is necessary in the US 
RFID RED test 2014/53/EU Depends on frequency FCC is necessary in the US 

Table 3. Requirements For Other Critical AGV Components

Critical component requirement EU/IEC  US
Lead-acid batteries IEC 60095 or 60896 or 61056; (UL1989 – US)
Lithium IEC/EN 62660 UL1973 or UL2580
Charger IEC 61558-2-16 or IEC 60335-1  UL1564 
Connectors for traction batteries  EN 1175-1 
Electric motors  EN 1175-1 
Electromagnetic contactors  EN 1175-1  -

Furthermore, the EU Official Journal for the Machinery Directive (MD 2006/42/EC) listed the EN ISO 3691 standard as a replacement for EN 1726.

Thorough Product Testing And Fast Market Access With A Reliable Partner

Staying on top of all regulatory changes that cover complex systems, such as AGVs, is a significant challenge for most manufacturers. Starting with the screening and selection of reliable component suppliers, through the design and production phases, all the way to testing and market certification, SGS has the full range of experts and labs to support all types AGV manufacturer. Our global reach and expertise in machinery and wireless testing and certification will help you manufacture and deploy highly-efficient, reliable and safe automated guided vehicles anywhere around the world.

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For more information on SGS services for AGV manufacturers, visit SGS Electrical and Electronics website or contact:

Jerry Zheng/ 郑峥
Machinery/ATEX/MID Safety & EMC Laboratory
Consumer and Retail Services
SGS-CSTC Standards Technical Services (Shanghai) Co.,Ltd
t: +86 (0)21 6191 5693