One of the vehicles is a low platform that can
maneuver all around the plant by itself and then slide
under a parts cart to pick it up and move it where it
needs to go. Flashing lights on the AGV alert people
to its presence as it travels around the plant. Much
like the new driverless cars, the AGVs use infrared
and LIDAR technology to find their way around,
navigating even through narrow passageways.
Automated material handling like this frees up
Keeping track with RFID
Elias’ employees to do more skilled tasks in the
manufacturing process. He said he was amazed at the
amount of savings to be had by automating material
handling like this, including, “reducing the time spent
loading, unloading and remaking parts that were dam-
Elias has developed another company, SMART
MRP Inc., to promote and develop some of these
advances to other shops.
So, with robots and AGVs moving all the parts
around, how do the humans in the plant keep track
of where the parts are? The answer is a sophisticated
RFID system that gives real-time control.
RFID tags on all the parts are tied to a variety of
different scanning systems. When a part is first labeled, an operator runs the part by a scanner, which
activates an indicator light on a SMART parts cart,
showing the operator exactly where on the cart to
put the part. If a part needs to be located for further
work, the operator can use a tablet console to identify
the part, and the lights on the SMART cart show him
exactly where the part is.
RFID tags can be in applied labels, inserted in the
sides of parts, or even applied to the edge of a door
panel before the stiles and rails are assembled. Overhead scanners automatically monitor the RFID tags
When parts are finally ready to leave the plant, RFID
scanners in the loading dock confirm that the parts are on
the truck and ready to go.
One of Muskoka’s AGVs is a low platform that can maneuver
all around the plant by itself and then slide under a SMART
parts cart to pick it up and move it where it needs to go.