The Benefits and Disadvantages of AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicles)

OCTOBER 29, 2018

AGVs are becoming more common on manufacturing floors. And why not? They can offer assistance with labor shortages and employee turnover, reduce labor costs, do non-value-added work and increase efficiency and safety—all critical in today’s highly-competitive global market.

However, there are some disadvantages with today’s AGVs. First, many small to mid-size manufacturers find the costs prohibitive. While over the long-term, owners and managers understand the benefits of an AGV, the sticker shock of the high initial investment keeps many businesses from investing in them.

Additionally, many of today’s AGVs have complex software and connectivity and require a fairly significant setup from an IT person. Furthermore, if Wi-Fi goes down or other software issues arise, the on-site skills to repair the issues may not exist, leading to significant delays. Outages and hacks can stop operations. In industries where security is critical, these connected AGVs may be a security risk.

Meet FRED: Not Your Typical AGV

ASI has been a manufacturer of custom engineered gear drives since 1986. When working with the AGV market, the team recognized the need for a more economical and simple AGV. In fact, FRED’s purpose is to assist mid-size manufacturers with non-value-added work while increasing safety and efficiency on the floor. FRED was engineered to remove the cost barrier and complexity of AGVs.

Safe. FRED limits the common risks of moving your products from one area to another. Obstacles and distractions are no challenge for FRED. It has blue lights on all sides and beeps when moving at its maximum speed of 2.1 mph to ensure that everyone on your floor knows it’s coming through. However, if there is something or someone in FRED’s path, safety lasers stop FRED in its tracks. FRED helps keep your employees safe and healthy and reduces worker compensation claims.

Simple. Many AGVs require a high setup cost and a significant software operation, something many manufacturers don’t have. But, they still want the benefits of AGVs in their facility. FRED removes both of those barriers. FRED does not connect to any other software and does not require WiFi or GPS—meaning if your internet goes down, FRED won’t. Since it is not connected to other systems, FRED is not at risk of getting a virus or hacked. FRED is easy to set up and adjust. It is simply guided by a clearly marked magnetic tape path. With FRED, you can be up and running in no time.

Productive. With the job market so tight, worker shortages are a real issue in manufacturing. FRED helps keep your team focused and productive by eliminating the need for a person to transport your products. FRED also reduces the product and facility damage caused by human transport. And, it never needs a break or a sick day. For a fraction of the cost of other AGVs, FRED can help increase your productivity.

Flexible. Floor space is at a premium in manufacturing facilities. Because of FRED’s size, it leaves more open floor space than a conveyor. FRED’s top fits a standard 40” x 48” pallet but it can be customized to meet your needs. FRED has a low profile at 11” high and its battery charge typically lasts over multiple shifts.

Automation Questions?

Businesses across many industries are now turning to automation technologies as powerful solutions to once unforeseeable material-movement challenges. We’re here to help you navigate the automation landscape, and drive your business forward. To learn more about how FRED and FREDDiE provide easy-to-implement solutions to complex challenges, contact an ASI Automation specialist today at

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