The automation and smart organisation of today’s industry will fundamentally change the way we work. ECA GROUP is contributing to the rapid progress of Industry 4.0 via its autonomous indoor and outdoor solutions.
ECA GROUP’s Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) respond to two market needs: The demand for turnkey solutions for logistics and other sectors and the demand for customised vehicles, tailored to operate in extremely demanding industrial environments.
ECA GROUP’s innovative solutions can be qualified and implemented without interruption or modification of existing flow and infrastructures. ECA GROUP’s AGVs work day and night, perform twice as much as classical industry equipment and take on heavy, hazardous and repetitive tasks. This helps to optimize production, reduce costs and comply with environmental and safety standards.
Based on 50 years of expertise in industrial robotics and automation, ECA GROUP’s engineering teams across sites have combined their skills to build AGVs for complex operations indoors and outdoors.
ECA GROUP’s AGVs for indoor and outdoor usage
As autonomous cars, the automated industrial vehicles developed by ECA GROUP are based on the SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) technology which enables the machine to “recognize” its environment and adapt its navigation/behaviour to a given situation. This allows a safe interaction with pedestrians, cyclists and lorries.
Designed and developed for indoor, outdoor and multi-building operations, without any changes to infrastructure or any additional installations, ECA GROUP AGVs are the first of a kind.
ECA GROUP’s Autonomous Guided Vehicles: Ready-made and customised solutions
ECA GROUP designs, builds and industrialises Autonomous Logistics Vehicles (unit load carriers, forklifts, towing vehicles) as off-the-shelf solutions with weight capacities between 1 and 20 tons.
The AGVs can tackle different loads and environments. Recently, ECA GROUP has industrialised its autonomous indoor and outdoor pallet truck for logistics L-S 1PT. French logistics supplier IDEA has chosen the AGV L-S 1PT to optimise logistics flows between buildings.
On the other hand, ECA GROUP is specialized in providing specific, high-technology solutions for world recognized industrial partners. These solutions are capable to operate in most demanding environments such as aluminium smelters, nuclear plants or aerospace factories.
ECA GROUP has recently developed a customised Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) in partnership with Rio Tinto Aluminum Pechiney. This is an industrial autonomous vehicle, specially designed to work in the demanding aluminum smelters. MAX is one of the world’s first self-driving vehicles for anodes, and it can charge loads of up to 12 tons.
This solution is dedicated to autonomous management of heavy loads in industrial environment. It consists of a Fleet Management System (FMS) and of one or more self-driving vehicles of different types specifically adapted for anodes or metal crucibles transportation.
This system operates INDOOR or OUTDOOR with high accuracy localization working independently from any external device (like satellites for the GPS or reflectors for laser positioning systems).
- Self-driving vehicles
- Easy integration without additional infrastructures
- No infrastructures required for guiding
- All ECA AGVs can be controlled by one centralized Fleet Management System (FMS)
- Smart navigation preventing collision or damage while maneuvering operations
- Indoor/outdoor multi-building navigation
- High accuracy localization thanks to simultaneous localization and mapping navigation system
- Intelligent pallet docking
- Up to 12T pallets - standardized and non standardized
- 100% electric actuators
- Short turning radius
- Virtual bumper
- According to the model, hybrid or electrical energy supply. Hydrogen solution coming soon.
- Industrial plants
- Aerospace industries
- Metal Manufacturing
- Naval construction
- Food and Beverages
- Health care
Another challenge for designing AGVs is to reduce its environmental footprint.
To meet these expectations and forthcoming regulations, ECA GROUP has been focusing its efforts to improve the hybridization of its AGVs and offer efficient electricity powered autonomous logistic vehicles in the near future.
Further developments focus on securing the load itself when exceeding the AGV size in order to build a “virtual wall” around it and prevent damage during maneuvering operations.
The SLAM navigation system already ensures safety and anti-collision against any object or people around. In addition, 4 Lidar sensors all around guarantee ultimately independent safety (Safety virtual bumper)
In addition, the centralized fleet management mode allows to operate missions of several Autonomous AGVs and to manage stocks, locations and traffic network.
ECA GROUP has developed another innovative approach for its AGVs as a fleet: thanks to a dedicated software, industrials will be able to easily manage several AGVs within their plant whether for individual or simultaneous handling.
A multipurpose solution to manage different sizes and weights of loads based on modular AGVs has also been developed. Thus, two or more AGVs can be connected in order to work in a swarm mode which increases and diversifies the handling capacity. Benefitting from these latest developments, ECA GROUP AGVs can handle both standardized loads such as euro-pallets as well as non-standardized loads.
ECA GROUP: expertise at all phases of the project
ECA GROUP know-how include all the phases of complex System Engineering, such as :
- Designs, FEM calculations
- On-site integration
- Tests, reports
- Integrated Logistic Support
- Long-term maintenance planning and execution
ECA GROUP supports its industrial customers during all the phases of the project, from the feasibility study up to the installation of the AGVs and the Fleet Management System.