Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), a member of the SATS Group, has commenced a proof-of-concept trial using Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) in its cargo terminal at Barcelona Airport.
The trial of Linde AGV forklift trucks will last for seven months and, if successful, will see this technology rolled out across other WFS stations in the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia (EMEAA) region.
WFS says that two types of AGV forklifts will be used in the Barcelona facility within the inbound and outbound operational areas.
They will move cargo from the breakdown areas to racking storage locations within the warehouse as well as to the cargo delivery area.
Marc Grau, Barcelona station manager, said: “We have allocated dedicated pick-up areas for the trials in addition to 156 pallet storage rack locations.”
Two types of AGV forklifts have been chosen for their ability to provide automated transport of pallets and to serve both low and high cargo storage positions.
The trial has also integrated WFS’ Cargospot Mobile warehouse management system, supplied by CHAMP Cargosystems, with AGV Robotic WMS to provide a one-system solution.
In line with SATS Group’s vision, WFS is exploring automation solutions with trials also including AGV ground handling tractors to move cargo between warehouse and airport apron operations.
As part of its evaluation process for this latest proof-of-concept, WFS’ operational excellence team was able to see the solution already in use in a logistics warehouse facility managing import and export shipments in the automotive industry.
The AGV forklift trial will explore how the vehicles are able to reduce the number of transport tasks currently undertaken by Cargo Agent personnel, giving them more time to conduct other important duties, as well as assess opportunities for productivity improvements.
The trial will be carried out in accordance with Racking Safety Requirements and strictly adhere to safety distances for transportation.
Jimi Daniel Hansen, vice president operational excellence – EMEAA at WFS, said: “We are very much looking forward to seeing how the use of AGV technology can enhance our cargo warehouse operations.
“We have chosen to do this first AGV forklift trial in Barcelona because it is a prime cargo station in the WFS network and one of the leading locations supporting our Operational Excellence initiatives.
“Our team in Spain are helping to drive the introduction of new technologies into our operations and to provide the proof-of-concept we need before we roll out these solutions at other cargo stations in our network.”
Adam Brownson, group IT programs and business relationships manager, also acknowledged the support of CHAMP Cargosystems. He said: “WFS has worked very closely with CHAMP to seamlessly integrate AGVs into the Cargospot Mobile warehouse management system to ensure we can embrace new AGV technologies with one core operating system.
“This is especially important in a busy, time-sensitive cargo handling environment and we value their partnership.”