Case: Agfa

Agfa Graphics in France, a manufacturer of offset plates for printing industry, has been using Rocla AGVs for nearly 10 years. The AGV system has been expanded twice. Three Rocla AGVs transport both wider and narrower pallets in the historical factory building, also operating in the dark.

One of Agfa Graphics’ manufacturing units is situated in Pont à Marcq in Northern France, where manufacturing commenced in 1935. About 250 persons work in this historic factory of which about 150 persons in the production. Production works in three shifts during the week and in one shift during the weekend. The first Rocla AGV was introduced in 2005, when the the roll transport from a stock into production machine needed to be automated. The production machine is situated in the dark room, as Agfa Graphics earlier handled films requiring dark space.

Before the introduction of Rocla AGVs Agfa Graphics used cranes, and pallets had to be transported by man-operated warehouse trucks. AGV was the ideal solution for improving the way of working, because transporting pallets with manual trucks in the challenging narrow areas caused some difficulties. Rocla is one of the only AGV manufactures in the world that could provide a laser navigation that can orientate in dark and that can use lights that don’t harm films.

The system has been expanded twice and the newest vehicle is a counterbalance AGV. The vehicle does not need support legs and can drive very close to the production machine. The AGV puts the pallets exactly in the right spot in the production machine. The implementation of the last AGV system took only about one week. The AGVs at Agfa Graphics communicate with WiFi, making it very easy to communicate directly to Rocla via internet if necessary.

At Agfa Graphics the personnel were included in the AGV projects. The people expressed how transferring empty pallets from the machine by hand was very hard. Earlier they had to create a stack of empty pallets using muscular power, which causes strain in the upper body. Agfa’s personnel is now committed to the system and they can devote their time to more demanding and pleasant tasks instead of monotonous, routine transfers.