AGV Products has installed an automated guided vehicle system for the Kennedy Space Center that features RFID capabilities. The AGV system functions as a warehouse distribution system, depositing pallets of material into a rack storage facility. The pallets contain anything from office supplies to very expensive flight gear.
RFID has the ability to track moving objects and is reliable in reasonably harsh environments. RFID tags do not have to be seen to be read. A tag buried in a buggy or bin poses no problem to the integrity of the system.
At Kennedy Space Center, RFID is used to give location updates to the AGV system in an automated warehouse environment. Kennedy Space Center dictated that it had to know the exact location of the AGV at all times, no exception. An RFID reader was installed on the AGV and tags in the floor of the facility.
When the automated guided vehicle enters the aisle for delivery of a pallet to the rack storage, it stops at the predetermined location and verifies its position, using RFID, before depositing the load. In this case, RFID is used as a “double-check” to make sure the AGV is in the correct position.
RFID has been used for automated guided vehicle load verification and vehicle positioning for over 15 years, in a number of industries. One approach buries tags at strategic positions in a facility and verifies the vehicle location via on-board DC powered readers. Another approach is to place readers at ends of warehouse aisles to monitor lift truck activity.