Rocla celebrates its 35 years of AGV solutions

Rocla has developed and manufactured AGV (automated guided vehicle) solutions since 1983. The first AGV, innovated by young engineers at Rocla, was designed and manufactured for Kone Corporation in Finland. Today Rocla is one of the leading providers of automated solutions with more than 1000 automation projects designed and delivered with an emphasis on warehouse and logistic, production, paper industry and food & beverage.

Rocla Oy, who has been a fore-runner in the automation industry for 35 years, was the first to introduce serially manufactured, modular automated guided vehicle (AGV) platform, still offering a tailored process solution fully fit for customer’s needs. Now Rocla is developing its global automation business even further with the creation of continental hubs and local service through partner model and digital solution platform.

With AGV solutions IoT and digitalization are offering even better tools for improving customer processes. Rocla is developing a whole new AGV digitalized solution environment, which is purposefully called “Easy AGV”. This will enable the company to provide completely scalable automation solutions for all partners and customers globally.

The project is well underway, two years ago Rocla launched a revolutionary dynamic AGV software Rocla Route Optimizer with excellent results. The solution optimizes the routes AGVs use in customer sites so that traffic flow is always smooth without interruptions. Since Rocla route optimizer dynamically finds the fastest routes for each AGV, there is no need for manual traffic rules anymore. As a result, you need fewer AGVs for a given task and achieve savings in both loaded and empty driving. The AGVs do more but drive less. Flexibility increases tremendously thanks to new solution:  you can increase transportation capacity in existing systems, which reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) of the vehicles.

Automation solutions evolve throughout the years

After the first successful AGV project Rocla’s new vehicles helped to build also Talbot cars manufactured in a car factory in Finland. In the 1980s many vehicles were also delivered to Sweden, and by 1990s export of Rocla’s automated solutions had expanded to other European countries. AGV business unit was called Rocla Robotruck with many dedicated automation experts.

Rocla AGV at a car factory

First AGVs used wire navigation, whereas in the 1990s laser guided vehicles started to appear. Laser navigation is easier to install and update with no need to cut the floor. Nowadays laser navigation is the most common navigation method used in AGVs.

The smallest vehicles, less than 30 cm in height, were delivered in the late 90s to the Netherlands for mushroom plantation. During those days also the biggest vehicles so far, more than 12 meters long, were shipped to CERN nuclear research laboratory for particle accelerators in Switzerland.

In the beginning of the new century a major contract with Tetra Pak packaging company was made.  More than 80 automated vehicles were delivered to eight factories in Europe and Japan. These vehicles are still in use as a retrofit project was made to them some years ago to update the technology side of the automation system. Updating the current system is a cost-efficient way to ensure the automation system will also run for the years to come.

Updating the current AGV system is a cost-efficient way to ensure the automation system will run for the years to come

New way of thinking

In 2007 Rocla launched the world’s first serially manufactured, fully modular automated guided vehicle, AWT. These vehicles use standard tractor units with modular load handling, mast, and support structure options tailored to various customer needs. In 2010 this family grew with ATX, automated truck for pallet handling and order picking. With ATX Rocla made it easy to automate just a part of the process also in smaller application environments.

Traditionally AGVs have been tailor-made with long delivery time, fixed system and very high costs. Rocla AGVs are a durable, flexible, and modular solution with short delivery and ROI times and lower life-cycle costs. Also, AGVs can easily be updated and modified if needed. Rocla’s AGV system can also be leased, leaving no capital tied up in investments. In addition to AGVs Rocla offers warehouse management system and all the supporting services for automated warehouses, factories and production.

Rocla's AGV solutions are durable, flexible, and modular, with short delivery and ROI.

Rocla celebrates its 35 years of automation solutions stronger than ever. Rocla’s history as a way-maker in designing and manufacturing warehouse trucks goes back even further to 1942, when the company was founded. Today Finland-based Rocla is part of Mitsubishi Logisnext group, who has appointed Rocla as a global design center. Rocla’s global presence and strong emphasis on R&D and industrial design boost also the competitive edge of Rocla’s automated solutions.