Incentives and Grant for Automation Project in Malaysia

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The future of economic growth relies heavily on the competitiveness and the readiness of the country towards the changes in the new era. With this, it’s vital the industrial players and business owners work out the continuous improvement plan and implant the R&D activities in their company operation routines. However, it’s not easy for regular SME to invest in the R&D activities, due to it’s high initial investment cost, and the uncertainties of the R&D outcomes. 

Understanding the challenges faced by the business owners, Malaysian government has launched and subsidizes numbers of R&D activities through various agencies. These initiatives have benefited thousands of SMEs and startups to nurture their idea and make it into reality. In the following articles we listed down a number of them for your quick reference:

This article was published on 20 September 2021, and the following information is valid on the date of publication. For more accurate and up-to-date information, please always check with the respective person in charge from the correspondence agencies. 

Cradle Fund

Cradle’s mission is to create an ecosystem that supports a strong and innovative business-building environment for technology entrepreneurs and innovators through the Cradle Investment Program (CIP). Established in 2003 with a mandate to fund high-calibre technology, Cradle has supported more than 1000 Malaysian technology-based companies across various sectors and has the highest commercialization rate among funding agencies in the country. DF Automation and Robotics is honourable to be one of the recipients of Cradle Fund back to the early day of its establishment. Cradle’s program offerings are not limited to financial assistance alone, but also include commercialization support and various other value-added services to accelerate growth. DF Automation and Robotics have gained a lot and grown tremendously after being the family of Cradle Fund. Up-to-date, Cradle provides 2 types of funding scheme, namely CIP IGNITE and CIP ACCELERATE. CIP IGNITE have 2 categories, which are CIP IGNITE (i), mainly for Deep Tech Company with Technology Readiness Level 5 to 7, where CIP IGNITE (ii) is for non Deep Tech Company with Technology Readiness Level 8 to 9. Any company that would like to apply for CIP IGNITE (ii) needs to have a market validated product via paying customers. CIP IGNITE provides conditional grants up to RM500,000.00 for validation and commercialization of systems and technology.

CIP ACCELERATE is a conditional grant up to RM2 Million for commercialization of proven systems and technology. CIP ACCELERATE however is only for Deep Tech Company

 

The funding focus is on digital/ICT, Technology Drivers, Socioeconomic Drivers, etc. For more information about Cradle fund, the application process, please visit the following link:

 

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CIP IGNITE & CIP ACCELERATE Funding schemes.

 

This is a specific matching grant from MDEC for companies to automate their business processes and move towards digitalisation. The grant will be used solely for the purpose of kickstarting the development and implementation of projects that push the adoption of technologies to automate business operations. A critical part of Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara (Penjana), the Smart Automation Grant (SAG) is a matching grant for general services and professional services companies. This matching grant is intended to assist services companies embarking on automation to achieve one of these outcomes:

  • Increase in revenue
  • Savings in business cost
  • Reduction of process time cycle
  • Reduce man hours
  • Create new sources of growth

 

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Smart Automation Grant (SAG)

 

Each successful applicant will receive up to 50% of the total project cost, subject to a ceiling limit up to RM200,000 or, whichever is the lowest, through this matching grant. The project duration given is 4 months whereas project implementation to digitalise the business operation will only run for up to 1 month and post monitoring to achieve project outcomes will run for 3 months. There are certain criteria in order for company to apply the grant, such as the company must be incorporated in Malaysia, with the paid up capital of at least RM50,000. The company need to have a minimum of 51% equity held by Malaysian. For more information about the eligibility criteria of the grant, please visit mdec.my/sag.

 

The Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment Intervention Programme or in short known as ‘Industry4WRD Intervention Fund’ was launched by the Government in Budget 2019. It is a financial support facility for Malaysian SMEs in the manufacturing and related services sectors to embrace Industry 4.0. This Fund is eligible for all SMEs which have completed the government-funded Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment (RA) programme. MITI has appointed MIDA as the Implementing Agency for the Industry4WRD Intervention Fund. The fund will be provided on a matching basis (70:30) based on eligible expenditures, up to a maximum grant of Ringgit Malaysia Five Hundred Thousand (RM500,000.00) only. Maximum 30% of the matching amount (70% of the total grant) will be provided upfront to the companies subject to the approval by the Intervention Fund Approval Committee at MITI, whereby the balance of the remaining grant will be on a reimbursable basis which will be deliberated at MIDA. This Fund is eligible for all SMEs in the manufacturing and related services sectors which have completed the government-funded Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment (RA) programme. Upon completion of the Industry4WRD RA, SMEs may apply for this Fund from MIDA. The application must be submitted not more than two (2) months after receiving the Industry4WRD RA report (date of approval letter issued by MPC).

 

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Industry4WRD Intervention Fund

 

The National Innovation and Technology (NTIS) Sandbox is a facility that enables researchers, innovators, start-ups and high-tech entrepreneurs to test products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a live environment. NTIS is open to all types of technology with priority given to the following technologies 5G / 6G, Sensor Technology, 4D / 5D printing, Advanced Materials, Advanced Intelligence System, Enhanced Analytics & Data Recovery, Bioscience Technology, Robotics, Artificial Technology, Dron and many more. The SME eligibilities are Malaysians or Malaysian-Owned Companies, Foreign companies – Joint Venture/merger of entities owned by Malaysians when the application is approved, Technology Availability Level (TRL) at level 6 (Commercial Ready Prototype) and above. Applicants who are interested in participating in the NTIS program must apply for the program through the website https://sandbox.gov.my/.

 

DF Automation and Robotics is honoured to be one of the recipients of NTIS Sandbox Grant for MCK19 project in the year of 2020. This project is an initiatives from MOSTI, HUKM and DF, to facilitate the robotic solution to help the frontliner during the pandemic outbreak. Following these activities, MCK19 has been deployed to MAEPS, HTA, Hospital Rehabitilasi Cheras Covid ward. Besides of MCK19, NTIS also supporting the development of UVC Disinfection robot for hospital and critical common area. 

 

The National Innovation and Technology (NTIS) Sandbox is a facility that enables researchers, innovators, start-ups and high-tech entrepreneurs to test products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a live environment. NTIS is open to all types of technology with priority given to the following technologies 5G / 6G, Sensor Technology, 4D / 5D printing, Advanced Materials, Advanced Intelligence System, Enhanced Analytics & Data Recovery, Bioscience Technology, Robotics, Artificial Technology, Dron and many more. The SME eligibilities are Malaysians or Malaysian-Owned Companies, Foreign companies – Joint Venture/merger of entities owned by Malaysians when the application is approved, Technology Availability Level (TRL) at level 6 (Commercial Ready Prototype) and above. Applicants who are interested in participating in the NTIS program must apply for the program through the website https://sandbox.gov.my/.

 

This is a specific matching grant for services companies that will help them automate their business processes and move towards digitalisation. The grant will be used solely for the purpose of kickstarting the development and implementation of projects that push the adoption of technologies to automate business operations. A critical part of Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara (Penjana), the Smart Automation Grant (SAG) is a matching grant for services companies. SMEs in the services sector are now able to kickstart their digital adoption journey and increase their digital capabilities to continue striving forward in this new normal. Each successful applicant will receive up to 50% of the total project cost, subject to a ceiling limit up to RM200,000 or, whichever is the lowest, through this matching grant. The project duration given is 4 months whereas project implementation to digitalise the business operation will only run for up to 1 month and post monitoring to achieve project outcomes will run for 3 months. The SME eligibilities are Issued and paid-up capital of at least RM50,000, Registered business activities, primarily traditional or non-technology activities from the service sector, Not a liquidation/winding up/bankruptcy order, No going concern issue and/or not dorman, Has a written contract or a committed arrangement with Technology Solution Partner for the development of the project and  If received any MDEC/government grant: must demonstrate the completion and success of the funded project/s.This matching grant can be applied through Specific digitalization programmes under MDEC’s business digital adoption division or direct online application at  mdec.my/sag.

 

Automated Guided Vehicles: All You Need To Know

Zalpha RobotArm

The new era of collaborative robotics is here! 

In recent years we’ve seen collaborative robots become one of the main drivers of the industry.

When compared to driver-operated factory floor vehicles or conveyor belts, AGVs come with a ton of benefits, including improved safety, better utilisation of space, and flexibility.

More and more manufacturers these days are opting for AGVs due to their immense potential to cut down the soaring operating costs and blend seamlessly with the overall automation concept of the industry.

AGVs hold the golden key to find the best-fit solutions for the logistics and production needs of the industry.

The graph shown below indicates the percentage of companies shifting to AGVs over the years.

shifting to AGV

Source: Statista

What are automated guided vehicles? 

Also known as autonomous guided vehicles or self-guided vehicles, AGVs are material handling or fleet management systems or load carriers capable of autonomously travelling through a manufacturing facility, warehouse, or distribution centre without an operator.

How do AGVs work?

These are self-propelled vehicles and move through defined pathways. 

The movement of AGVs is directed by a combination of the sensor-based guidance system and software technology. In addition, they have more advanced dynamic navigation capability.

AGVs usually have inbuilt automatic obstacle detection bumpers and move with a precisely controlled deceleration and acceleration.

Types of automated guided vehicles 

There are several different types of AGVs. Although many are similar to other human-operated vehicles, these are designed to work seamlessly without the need for any human intervention.

Here are some of the various different types of AGVs used in industries.

1. AGV Robots

These are automatic guided vehicles with robotic limbs. Unlike regular AGVs, these vehicles work great at moving or picking items. AGV robots are a unique blend of human intuitiveness and brute mechanical lifting force.

AGV robots can be programmed and are commonly used for loading and unloading applications. Moreover, they work precisely without any error creeping in.

2. Automated Guided Carts

This is the most basic type of AGV with minimal features. The inbuilt navigation system can range from a simple magnetic tape to an advanced sensor-based system.

Automated guided carts are used to transport a range of materials from loaded pallets to small parts. They are commonly used in storage and cross-docking applications.

One of the popular examples of these is the hospital cart transporter. This is used to transport loads within a hospital effectively. This includes sterile supplies, biohazard waste, soiled linens, meals, empty food trays, etc. 

There is no need for workers to push the cart from one place to another with Automated guided carts.

2. Forklift AGV

These are AGVs integrated into a forklift. Forklift AGVs are suitable for the floor-level pallet to pick up and can stock pallets at various heights.

These are widely used in sorting systems and automatic storage units, particularly warehouse racking. In addition, forklift AGVs help to save lots of costs incurred in labour charges since they help replace Hi-Lo operators and lift trucks that require training and licensing.

3.Towing AGV

These AGVs are used to pull trailers or carriers. Towing AGVs are solely designed for transport and cannot place the respective loads in their locations.

Since load-carrying does not involve lifting, towing AGV can handle multiple loads at the same time. 

They are sometimes known as driverless vehicles and are effective in transporting heavy loads over long distances. They might have several picks up or drop off points along a defined path.

4.Unit load handlers

They carry discrete loads such as a single unit, individual object, pallet, or tote containing multiple items.

5. Heavy burden carrier 

As the name suggests, these AGVs are designed to carry the heaviest loads, such as large assembly, casting and coil etc. Certain carriers have pivot or omnidirectional steering with self-loading capabilities.

Heavy loads AGVs can effectively handle up to 25,000 pounds. As a result, they often come with larger bases, wide platforms and solid wheels. In some instances, they have to be custom-designed to perform a function unique to the industry.

6. Autonomous mobile robots (AMR)

These are more technologically advanced than other types of AGVs.The navigation system can vary from simple wire or magnetic tape to intelligent navigational systems.

Intelligent navigation systems used by autonomous mobile robots use sensors and camera systems to indemnify and navigate around obstacles. Advanced software technology used by AMRs also plans the most efficient path to navigate a warehouse.

7. Underride AGV

These are AGVs that lift the load by driving underneath a cart or basket and lifting it slightly. The load is then carried to the required destination and dropped without any intervention.

You can see many underride AGVs in hospitals that help carry linens, medical supplies, and food items.

8. Unit load AGV

They help to transport palletised or unitised goods. Unlike the underride AGV, they do not lift the load from the floor. Raising the load often requires other load lifting equipment.

9. Assembly AGV

These are used to transport goods in an assembly process. The navigation is relatively more straightforward since the assembly process happens in a controlled environment. 

The driving speed of assembly AGVs are relatively low, but their location system is highly manoeuvrable, enabling them to fit and orient accordingly to assembly stations.

Applications of AGVs

Although AGVs are commonly used for transporting materials, their applications are practically endless. 

Thanks to advancements in robotics and software engineering, this technology can be moulded to adapt to a wide range of environments.

Here are some of the exciting applications of AGVs.

1. Handling of raw materials

AGVs are most commonly used to transport raw materials such as paper, rubber, steel and plastic. Material handling includes receiving the materials from the warehouse to delivering the materials directly to the production unit.

2. Handling of hazardous materials

Often harmful materials (chemicals, radioactive etc.) are used in the manufacturing process. If human operators handle this hazardous stuff, there is a high risk of accidents.

Using AGVs to handle these high-risk materials helps to ensure that there is no room for accidents.

3. Finished product handling

Automated guided vehicles can be rightfully used for transporting finished goods before they are delivered to the customers.

These movements require the gentlest handling mainly because the products are susceptible to damage due to rough handling.

4. Cart handling

AGVs can be effectively used for handling trolleys and moving carts.

5. Roll and bulk handling

If you plan to transport semi, finished goods or raw materials, AGVs can be used to ensure bulk and smooth handling.

6. Pallet handling

This is a top-rated application of AGVs.The repetitive movement of pallets is commonly used in distribution and manufacturing facilities. AVGs can be employed for performing pallet handling.

Benefits of AGVs

Automated Guided Vehicles offer numerous benefits to manufacturing and warehousing.

1. Reduced labour charges

By investing in AGVs, the only cost incurred to companies is the initial expense of the equipment.

By replacing the human workforce, businesses can save many costs incurred on monthly salary, vacation time, payroll taxes, health care coverage etc.

2. Flexibility

One of the most incredible benefits of AGVs is that they are highly flexible. Routes can be easily changed by reprogramming the instructions.

AGVs are a scalable solution when it comes to meeting the different demands of the industry and additional units as per the changing demand.

3.Improved safety

One of the prime concerns of implementing AGVs in businesses is safety. Therefore, the entire programming of AGVs is done by keeping safety as the topmost priority.

AGVs are crammed with lasers, sensors and cameras, allowing them to operate around structures and personnel safety. On the other hand, the equipment used by human operators lack many essential safety features, and there is always room for error.

Besides, human operators can also get tired or distracted, which is another cause of accidents. AVGs, on the other hand, can work round the clock.

4. Less pace required

When compared to traditional warehouse equipment AVGs consume less space. Some of them are even smaller than conventional warehouse equipment, such as forklifts that allow for floor layouts with narrow aisles.

5.Increased productivity and efficiency

Since AVGs operate automatically, they are highly predictable and reliable for performing repetitive tasks. As a result, they boost productivity by eliminating unnecessary walking and physical labour for repetitive tasks.

The idea here is to replace the human element with AGVs and minimise some inaccurate workflows

6. Modularity

This will help companies to avoid high initial investments. Instead of purchasing AGVs in bulk, you will be able to buy one or two and gradually expand your fleet to fully automated operations.

7. Steady cost 

As AGVs are acquired on a per rental or per unit cost basis, cost fluctuations are relatively minor. On the other hand, human labour chargers can fluctuate as per market demand.

Bottom Line

One of the best things about AGV technology is that it is highly adaptive and can be made for operation in any industry known to man. As more and more companies shift to use AGVs, they can cut down the unnecessary cost lost in manual labour chargers.

In this article, we have explained different types of AGVs, their applications, and their benefits. Let us hope that tomorrow’s world holds the promise of industries being safer, fast, and efficient.

What Is Robotics: How Do Robots Work, and Why Do We Need Them?

what is robotics?

The last decade saw an accelerated evolution and widespread adoption of robotic technology around the globe. These days, robots are used in almost all fields known to man.

According to a report by Forrester, by 2021, robots will eliminate 6% of all the jobs in the United States.

An assessment by McKinsey’s has indicated that by 2030, almost one-third of all American jobs are going to be automated.

Want to know more about robotics and how do they work?

This article will closely examine the true potential of robotics and how they can be helpful in various fields.

What are robots?

Robots are automated machines that are built to replace human effort. They can execute specific complex tasks with a high degree of precision and speed with minimal or no human intervention.

 

What are the main components of a robot?

1. Central Processing Unit

The Central Processing Unit can be described as the brain of a robot. The CPU receives the outside stimulus using sensors and processes the data to give appropriate responses.

2. Sensors

These are the eyes, nose and ears of a robot which receive stimulus from the surroundings and convert them into appropriate electrical signals to be processed by the CPU.

Some of the common sensors inside a robot include: 

  • Sound Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Pressure sensor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Positioning sensor
  • Distance sensor
  • Contact Sensor

3. Actuators

These components of the robot are attached to the main unit to help in movement. This includes:

  • Electric: Uses electric current to facilitate movement
  • Hydraulic: Uses oil to enable movement
  • Pneumatic: Uses air to facilitate movement

4. End effectors

These are the tools that perform the actual work done by a robot. This includes manipulators, grippers, welding torches and so on.

5. Power supply

Stationary robots receive power directly from the power line, just like any electronic device. On the other hand, mobile robots carry high capacity batteries to store power for an extended period.

6. Program

These are a set of instructions that the computer can execute to perform a specific task. A computer programmer usually writes the source code, and the compiler converts it into machine code so that the CPU can understand.

Types of Robots

Robots vary a lot in their design, degree of autonomy and functionality. In general, there are five different types of robots.

1) Pre-programmed Robots

Pre-programmed robots are designed to perform simple monotonous tasks and often operate in a controlled environment.

In the last years, the automobile industry was entirely revolutionised by using these robotic arms. The robotic arms are so large that they will be able to handle entire automobiles with ease.

The arms are designed to perform simple functions such as inserting a specific machine part or welding a particular mechanical part etc.

2) Humanoid robots

Just like the name suggests, humanoid robots are designed to imitate human behaviour and expressions. For example, humanoid robots usually perform activities like carrying objects, running, jumping etc.

Two of the popularly known humanoid robots are Boston Dynamics’Atlas and Hanson Robotics’ Sophia.

3. Autonomous Robots

Autonomous robots are highly efficient to work independently of human intervention. In addition, autonomous mobile robots can move around on their own.

These robots comes in different forms, such as ground-based robots, water-based underwater robots, flying drones etc.

Currently, these robots are limited to the confines of a given environment, such as shopping malls, railway stations, warehouses, factory space etc.

However, as technology gets more advanced, autonomous robots can be put in a broader environment such as streets, research centres etc.

The speciality of autonomous robotics is that they use sensors to perceive the world around them and make decisions based on sensory input. Some examples of autonomous robots include hospitality bots — lawn trimming bots, medical assistant bots, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), etc.

automated guided vehicles

4. Augmenting Robots

These robots help to replace the capabilities a human has lost or to enhance existing capabilities.

The most common example of an augmenting robot would be a prosthetic limb. Modern prosthetic limbs are complex electronic devices that can understand and respond to the nerve impulses sent by the patient’s brain.

For example, some prosthetic arms can be attached to the muscles in the chest so that the patient moving the muscles can cause the arm to move in specific ways.

The field of augmented robots is evolving at such a tremendous pace that soon science fiction is going to be reality.

5. Teleoperated Robots

These robots come in handy in places where the environment is too dangerous, harsh, uncomfortable, limiting or repetitive for humans to perform certain tasks such as microsurgery, underwater exploration, oil mining, inspecting nuclear hazards etc.

What is robotics?

Robotics is a branch of engineering which involves the conception, design, testing and manufacturing of robots. The field of robotics is a unique blend of AI, computer science, electronics, bioengineering, mechatronics and nanotechnology.

Robotics engineering and automation is the use of information technologies and control systems. Specialisation in robotics engineering leads to potential career growth in research, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, power plant maintenance, and various other areas.

A short history of robots

Science fiction author Isaac Asimov is credited as the first person to use the term robotics in a short story composed in the year 1940. The three laws written by the author to guide the behaviour of robotics have thrown light into the development of modern-day intelligent robots.

These robots were similar to humans and were made of chemical matter. They are capable of thinking and can be roughly related to modern-day androids.

The earliest robots date back to several centuries before the times of Isaac Asimov. In 1478 Leonardo da Vinci conceptualised and designed a self-propelled car. Although the design was limited to the confines of a drawing board, the model was surprisingly found to be working when a group of Italian researchers replicated the design as a digital model.

Another eminent English Mathematician Alan Turing developed ‘The imitation Game’, which laid the foundation of modern-day research into AI and Robotics.

The Turing Test is a method to verify whether an AI device can think like a human being. The field of robotics helps to study the relationship between humans and machines.

George C. David invented a reprogrammable manipulator in the 1950s. Joseph Engelberger acquired Devol’s robot patent and altered his design into the world’s first robot.

MIT developed the first AI-based bots in 1966.

SRI International designed and developed a Shakey – self directed robot for industrial applications.

In the 1990s, several computer facing bots started to appear in the limelight.

The robotics technology exploded post-2000 with the release of SmarterChild, a programmed bot within the AOL messenger.

In the early 2000s, Stanley, a vehicular bot and PackBot, a military robot, were both invented. PackBot played a vital role to search for victims and estimate the structural integrity of the debris.

Why do we need robots: Uses  

Here are some of the top uses of robots.

1. Health Care

With robots, it is easier for surgeons to perform intricate procedures on areas of the body which are difficult to access. Robots are also used as prosthetic limbs to provide therapy to patients etc.

2. Security

Robots can be effectively used as security agents to assist human security guards. These robots are famous for their real-time intelligence and can help in preventing crimes such as fraud, domestic violence, robberies etc.

3. Deep space exploration

Space agencies like NASA frequently use autonomous vehicles and robots to perform tasks impossible to humans. For example, the Mars Rover is an autonomous robot that travels on the surface of Mars to collect data.

4. Military Applications

Robots have several applications in the defence sector. For example, they can be used as armed systems to counterattack opposing forces or drones and help to keep a watchful eye on the enemy.

Popular robots used in the defence sector include MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) which uses tear gas and lasers to confuse the enemies and DOGO-a, a combat robot designed to spy on the activities of the enemies.

5. Agriculture

Robots can assist farmers by doing repetitive tasks such as seeding, weed control and harvesting. An excellent example of agricultural robots is Ecobotrix, an efficient robot powered by solar energy and helps remove weeds in agricultural lands using a complex system of sensors and cameras.

6. Logistics and fleet management

These days, customers expect their delivery to be made at lightning speeds. As a result, companies need to employ robots for automated fleet management systems, shipping, handling and quality control to minimise time and maximise efficiency.

AMR Fleet Management System

Robots help eCommerce companies by taking things off the shelf, transporting them across the warehouse and packing them for safe delivery. 

7. Customer service

These robots are designed to have direct interaction with the customers. Customer service robots come in both humanoid and non-humanoid forms and can automate much of their tasks in customer service. For example, the popular Henna Hotel in Nagasaki uses robots to attend to their customers’ needs.

8. Manufacturing

In the manufacturing sector, several tasks don’t require the usage of the mind, such as welding, packing and assembly. The robots can be used to perform repetitive and monotonous operations under the supervision of a human.

9. Travel

With a unique combination, deep learning, AI and robotics, it is possible to design and manufacture cars that can steer themselves through the most complex traffic. Several companies like Tesla, Ford, BMW and Volkswagen are already developing autonomous vehicles that require minimal human intervention.

Difference between robotics and AI

It is a popular belief that Artificial Intelligence and robotics are the same though they are different. We can consider robotics as the body and AI as the brain from a common man’s perspective.

Even before the advancements in AI robots have existed in the past, an artificially intelligent robot can be considered a combination of both these technologies.

Thus,  AI is a program that doesn’t need to be physical, while a robot is an automated machine in physical form that may or may not require intelligence to perform a specific task.

AI can function on almost any device such as cell phones, cars, laptops, music systems and perform tasks that are most likely related to algorithms and information.

Chatbots are a type of robot that doesn’t have a physical body. However, for some people, these are not robots as they don’t have any solid form.

Chatbots are powered by AI to actively learn and execute new tasks.

Thus an artificially intelligent robot is a blend of these two technologies. Although AI-powered robots are still in their infancy, soon, there will be a day where we could see self-learning robots doing unique tasks around us.

Bottom Line

Unparalleled evolution in sensor technology, deep learning and computing power can provide the robots with powerful AI capabilities.

Modern-day robots can instantly connect with other robots and are equipped with a full range of IoT, edge, cloud, analytical tools and other sensing devices.

If you are thinking of implementing robotic technology in your factory or industry, go for it without thinking twice, as it can save time and effort with minimal investment.

At DF Automation and Robotics, we provide a complete range of services along with products like autonomous mobile robots, fleet management systems, and robotic products and accessories.

DFleet – Fleet Management System of DF Robots

Line of AMRs2
Line of AMRs2

Fleet Management System is vital when there are more than 1 AMRs running on the floor

DFleet is a server based computer software to control and manage a fleet of mobile robots to achieve common tasks more effectively and efficiently. 

Most of these robots are operating in the same factory layout and on the same path. Most of the time, only one robot is allowed to run on that path.  There is a need to have a system to coordinate and plan the operations for all mobile robots in the list. It’s also vital to make sure the workloads are evenly distributed between all mobile robots and make sure the usage for all robots are balanced. This is where The DFleet software comes into play. 

DFleet 1 G

Figure 1: Live location of all AMRs can be viewed under the same monitor page

As shown in Figure 1, users can view the live map displaying the location of all AMRs in the network. With this interface, users can view the real-time location of all robots in one glance.With DFleet in place, users don’t have to worry about the task arrangement and the complex traffic coordination among the AMRs. All of this will be handled by DFleet.

DFleet Priority

Figure 2: Assignment of tasks to the AMRs is based on a specific criteria, or a combination of multiple criteria.

One of the key features of DFleet is its capability to organise the tasks in the queue and the assignment of tasks to the AMRs based on a specific criteria, or a combination of multiple criterias. Users can set the priority and criteria through DFleet software. The action of generating the criteria is called The Assignment Policy. There are a list of commonly used criteria selectable from the system, such as assignment of task based on the robot’s battery percentage (highest or lowest), based on the task count (highest or lowest), based on the distance of the AMR and destination (farthest or nearest), or by just based on the task count of the AMR (lowest or highest), and etc.

To understand further, check out the video below with detailed description on the operation of DFleet.

In a modern production floor, there is a necessity to make sure the system in place is able to interface with the external software and also the existing smart manufacturing infrastructure. DFleet software is designed in such a way to be integrated with these software to realize smart manufacturing control and align with IR4.0 direction. DFleet provides an interfacing API to communicate with third party software. DFleet API provides the following entities such as Task Query, Task Create, Task Prioritize, Task Cancel, Task Abort, as well as AMR Status Query. With this API in place, DFleet is able to exchange information and integrate with the existing system. For more information, please send us an inquiry and our technical team will assist you for more detail.

The video below illustrate the operation and logic of DFleet. Check it up!

Author by: Chia Chin Wee  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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Automated Pallet Hand Jack Clamping Mechanism using DF Mobile Robot

Zalphar S with Towing Arm scaled

Towing 1

Hand pallet jacks are common moving equipment used by many manufacturers. It is used in pallet transferring and material handling. Unfortunately, even when workers attempt to use them safely, pallet jacks handling is still one of the biggest hazards in today’s working environment. Common hazards associated with pallet jack operation such as overloading of load, mishandling of hand pallet jack and even misarrangement of goods on the hand pallet jack can bring danger to the workers. There are precautions that can be done to reduce the hazard such as safety training, operation training, routine inspection of the jack before use, wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE), route planning, and avoidance of horseplay. However, the hazards still exist and haunt the workers and the factory owner everyday.

Zalphar S with Towing Arm scaled

As an alternative, DF Automation & Robotics found an automated solution which can help reduce the hazard, as well as improve the material handling efficiency. Most importantly, The investment is minimal and the existing hand pallet jacks can still be reused. Zalpha Autonomous Mobile Robot is the answer to it. Zalpha AMR is a mobile robot by DF Automation and Robotics which can navigate automatically by artificial intelligence (AI) and uses sensors to identify the surroundings during its operation. Zalpha AMR comes with a flexible top compartment which can carry customized top compartment for different applications. For hand jacks towing, DF mechanical design team have designed a general automated towing clamp which works for most of the hand jacks in the market. Below is the detailed description of the operation of the AMR for hand jacks towing.

AMR Process

Zalpha Towing Step 1

1. Operator load full pallet with pallet jack manually at station and call AMR using remote calling device

Zalpha Towing Step 2

2. AMR received request, and move to the calling station.

Zalpha Towing Step 3

3. Upon arrive, AMR reverse and engage with the hand jack automatically.

Zalpha Towing Step 4

4. Loading of pallet hand jack completed. AMR move out from station and deliver the hand jack to the designated destination.

Zalpha Towing Step 5

5. When Towing AMR arrive, the clamp release automatically and drop the pallet hand jacks on the destination point

 

 

Clamp Mechanism

The clamp is an automated lock mechanism designed specially for hand jacks engagement. It comes with a sensor which can trigger the lock whenever the hand jack is properly attached to the clamp. It can be manually disengaged as well. Users can disengage the handle from the actuator movement by pulling the release handle to unhook. 

 

Pallet Jack Guide

A Pallet Jack Guide guides and holds the pallet jack’s front wheel in position. The aluminium plate will correct the front wheel angle and guide toward the U-shape plate. Once the wheel enters the space, it will hold the pallet jack in position.

 

Advantages of Automated Pallet Jack Clamping

By using Zalpha Pallet Jack clamping, the working hazard is reduced as it minimises the handling of the goods by humans. The material handling operation can be easily planned and predicted as well since the operation is automated. Besides, it can also significantly increase the operation time without need to worry about the tiredness and absence of the workforce.

Zalpha Towing

 

For more detail of how it operates, please find the following video link

Author by: Chia Chin Wee  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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NavWiz – The Intelligence Behind all DF Robots

NavWiz Main Page
NavWiz Main Page

Main Page of NavWiz Software

NavWiz or Navigation Wizard is a software application for Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) and Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV). NavWiz has all the features required in a modern autonomous mobile robot, such as to program the robot, status monitor, smart navigation, AI and IoT enabled. NavWiz is developed by DF and it is the core of the intelligence behind all AMR and AGV from DF. NavWiz has won multiple awards and recognition in national and international.
NavWiz first released in 2016 and there are continuous ongoing new features and technologies improvement addition throughout the year to stay relevant in this fast moving technology era.
NavWiz is a software hosted in DF robots. It provides browser-based user interface to the users. It can be accessed from any devices such as laptops, tablets or phones regardless of the device operating system through the standard internet browser.
There are 3 main elements in NavWiz which are the Mapping and Routing, Task Programming and Task Runner.

 

Mapping and Routing

Mapping is the configuration of the sitemap for NavWiz to understand the area for navigation. During the setup, the AMR needs to be brought around to capture the surrounding features and form the map. Once the map is formed, it will be used by NavWiz as the reference for AMR localisation. Mapping is a one time job and doesn’t require revisiting again, unless there is a major change in the layout of the navigation area. Figure 2 illustrates the map generated after the mapping.
NavWiz Mapping

Figure 2: Mapping of Trackless AMR

Routing is the configuration of the AMR running path, by just drawing the lines on NavWiz. Routing can be done for two types of robots which are tracked AGV and trackess AMR.
For tracked AGV, it navigates purely based on the guidance of magnetic strip and the AGV position is determined from the magnetic tapes junctions. Figure 3 illustrates the routing of a tracked AGV on NavWiz.
NavWiz AGV Routing

Figure 3: Routing of Tracked AGV

For trackless AMR, routing is done on top of the map generated from Mapping. The AMR will navigate based on the path with the reference to the surrounding natural features. Users can mark the position of the Stations on the path. By doing this, AMR will know it’s starting point and the destination, at the same time identify its current position by comparing the surrounding features with the map features. Figure 4 shows the mapping and routing of the trackless AMR.
NavWiz Routing AMR

Figure 4: Routing of trackless AMR 

 

Task Programming

Task Programming is the part to program the robot to perform the tasks or actions as required by the user. The programming is a graphical flowchart. It can create tasks. By just clicking and dragging the lines connecting the Tasks together, the AGV will know the sequence of the tasks and it can also make simple decisions based on specific conditions. 
With the mapping and routing in place, users can program the robot to move from station to station. A complete AMR application, for example, delivery of raw material trolley from Warehouse to the Assembly Lines; consists of multiple Tasks. To break it down, the first Task will be AMR moving from charging station to Warehouse, second Task will be collecting the raw material trolley, the third Task will be delivery of the trolley to the assembly line and finally, the last Task is leaving the trolley at the assembly line and go back to the charging station. 
Each Task is a single specific AMR action. In order to program the AMR to perform a complete meaningful application, all these Tasks need to be linked together. The compilation of multiple tasks to form a complete AMR application is called Task Template.
Figure 5 shows the standard Task Template in NavWiz.
More importantly, there is a list of closed to 100 standard library blocks which can be used to speed up the development process. Standard actions such as “Navigate to Station”, “Wait for Button”, “Read IO”, “Write IO”, “Play Music”…etc, can be found from the list and imported into the task template. With this flowchart based programming method, users do not have to work on low level programming anymore, making the programming of DF robots easier, flexible and more expandable.
NavWiz Task Templates

Figure 5: Task Templates Robot Programming 

Task Runner

After completing the mapping and task template, users can find the list of the task templates on the Task Runner page (Figure 6). Each time the AMR can only execute one task template, the next task template triggered will be queued under the queuing list. The supervisor is able to set the priority for each queuing task template, as well as removing the task template from the queuing list if it’s necessary.
 Once the task template is completed, it will be logged into the AMR system as the record for tracing. Users can find the daily, weekly or even monthly completed task template from the History tab and Report page. 
NavWiz provides a graphical reporting page (Figure 7) for users to view, as well as to download the performance of the AMR into CSV format for easier reporting and review.
NavWiz Task Runner

Figure 6: The Task Runner Page 

NavWiz Report Page

Figure 7: Reporting Page displaying the record of robot activities

 

Other Features

Other than the 3 main elements, NavWiz features some handy applications to help with the operation of the AGV system (Figure 8). 
NavWiz Other Features

Figure 8: Other Features on NavWiz Software

Engineers can perform Action Test, Calibration, Hardware Test, Homing, Manual Line Follow and Wifi Test to assist in the routine maintenance activities.
Besides, users can check the robot’s current map and the real time scanning profile through the Map tab. Status tab is where the users can observe the robot’s condition which includes CPU power consumption, Line Sensor Status, Power Condition and much more. (Figure 9). 
NavWiz Status Page

Figure 9: Robot Status Page

 

NavWiz is being used by all robots from DF, from the smallest FDR Sushi Delivery Robot, to the Titan heavy duty 1 Tonne Autonomous Mobile Robot. With this NavWiz software, the method of programming of the Robots is the same, regardless of its model and physical outlook.
 The software is still evolving in time to suit the customer needs. With the NavWiz components and IoT infrastructure in place, the development design cycle is being shortened significantly. 
In advance of industrial 4.0 application, The next major improvement of NavWiz will be focusing more on the big data collection and visualisation. 
NavWiz All Robots

Figure 10: Navwiz – Intelligence Behind all DF AMR and AGV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get a closer view on the NavWiz features and the programming of DF AMR robots from the video below!

Author by: Chia Chin Wee  I  Yeong Che Fai  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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Customs duty on AMR and AGV

Customs Duty scaled 1

Customs duty on AMR and AGV

Customs duty is a tax imposed to the goods that are imported or exported in a country. In general, there are two types of custom duties rates which are specific and on an ad valorem basis, where it is based on the value of goods. 
For instance, when you want to buy a car from Japan and import it back to your own country, you are liable to pay a custom tax of 0% to 30% rate. The same thing goes when you want to buy a robot originated in Denmark, you are liable to either pay a certain custom tax or maybe even 0% rate depending on the countries’ custom duty. 
Same goes to AMR and AGV which may be liable to custom duty. The custom tax imposed for the robots normally will differ as stated by the government rules and it will change from time to time. Some countries will charge it at higher taxes and there are certain countries that did not even tax it. 
It is crucial to describe the product that you want to import correctly. However, sometimes custom officers may interpret the product differently due to the usage of the name. As discussed in the previous article, Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) and Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) are both basically the same thing, which is an industrial mobile robot. However, by using Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) term with “vehicle” name on it may confuse the officers to categorize the AGV under list ‘vehicles’ which could be of ‘dutiable goods’. In contrast, when the Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) term is applied, the officers can easily recognize it as an industrial robot by looking at its name and categorizing it correctly. 
Customs Duty
Factories that want to purchase AGV or AMR need to ensure to declare the items correctly so the customs duty is charged accordingly. For example, importing industrial handling machines and vehicles to Malaysia will be charged at 30% tax rates. As for importing industrial robots to Malaysia, there are no taxes charged over it. Table below shows the list of import rates of Vehicle and Industrial Robot for different countries:
Table: List of import rates of vehicles and industrial robots for different countries. 
Country 
Items 
Import rates
Malaysia
Vehicle
30%
Industrial robot
0%
China 
Vehicle 
30%
Industrial robot
20%
Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam
Vehicle
0%
Industrial robot
0%
Germany
Vehicle
19%
Industrial robot
19%
India
Vehicle
7.5%
Industrial robot
7.5%
Laos
Vehicle
5%
Industrial robot
5%
Myanmar
Vehicle
3%
Industrial robot
3%
Thailand
Vehicle
20%
Industrial robot
20%
USA
Vehicle
0%
Industrial robot
2.5%
*Note: SST/GST/VAT may apply according to each country policy. Information is updated on 27 May 2020. 
Sources:
China: http://www.transcustoms.com/
Germany: http://auskunft.ezt-online.de/ezto/Modus.do#ziel
India: http://cbic.gov.in/htdocs-cbec/customs/cst1920-311219/cst1920-311219-idx
Japan: https://www.customs.go.jp/english/tariff/2020_1/index.htm
Laos: https://www.laotradeportal.gov.la/index.php?r=tradeInfo/index
Malaysia: http://mysstext.customs.gov.my/tariff/
Mexico: http://www.sice.oas.org/TPD/TPP/Final_Texts/English/MEX_Tariff_Sched.pdf
Myanmar: https://www.customs.gov.mm/sites/default/files/UpPDF/Customs%20Tariff%20of%20Myanmar%202017.pdf#overlay-context=node/26
Philippines: https://tariffcommission.gov.ph/tariff-book
Singapore: https://www.tradenet.gov.sg/tradenet/portlets/search/searchHSCA/searchInitHSCA.do
Thailand: http://www.thailandntr.com/en/goods/tariff
USA: https://hts.usitc.gov/
Vietnam: https://www.customs.gov.vn/SitePages/Tariff-Search.aspx?language=en-US

Co-authored by: Dr Yeong Che Fai I Ken Wong I Noor Atikah Soleha Mad Alim
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UTM, HCTM & DF Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19’ to Ace COVID-19

Utm Hctm Df Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19 To Ace Covid 19 01 scaled e1586307404432

UTM, HCTM & DF Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19’ to Ace COVID-19

JOHOR BAHRU , 7 Apr. — Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM (HCTM) and DF Automation & Robotics Sdn Bhd (DF) have joint together in a significant collaboration to develop a Hospital Delivery Robot System.
The robot, named MCK19 or Makcik Kiah 19, is the First Malaysian Made Delivery Robot for hospitals to assist healthcare frontliners in assisting the delivery of healthcare to patients with COVID-19.
The project embarked during the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced.

Delivery Robot MCK19

Figure: A user is interacting with MCK19.
MCK19 uses Zalpha, a DF’s commercial robot that can accommodate weight up to 300kg in its shelves and able to navigate autonomously to assist doctors or nurses in delivering food or medicine to a patient’s room.
The usage of these robots especially MCK19 will reduce the exposure of healthcare professionals and frontliners to patients under investigations (PUI) that may be highly contagious and need to be in isolation.
Hence, it would also decrease in the need for PPEs as hospitals are facing a global shortage.
This prototype had been modified and integrated with compartments’ storage which can be customised according to need.
There is a LCD screen on the robot to show an animated face to make the robot more human friendly, and soon, it can be used for teleconference between doctors from his room/office with patients, without having the doctor to go to the their room.

Utm Hctm Df Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19’ To Ace Covid 19 02

 

Figure: Left picture: Compartment’s shelves that can be customised. Right Top picture: LCD screen shows animated friendly face. Bottom Right Picture: Graphical User Interface.
This robot is also an IoT robot where it can be accessed by any PC, tablets or phones, allowing users to interact with the robot even if the users are not at the hospital’s premise.
In addition, there is also a security feature in place to allow access by authorised admin only.
The working prototype that took less than two weeks to develop is made possible with the strong support from all parties especially from MOSTI, MITI, MTDC, HCTM, UTM, DF, Ministry of Health, hospitals and industries.
This project is led by co-founder of DF, Assoc. Prof. Dr Yeong Che Fai from School of Electrical Engineering, UTM.
According to him, as DF has provided robotic solutions to industry since 2012, we leverage the robots and experiences we have to achieve the social distance requirement in hospitals between humans during this critical time.
“Robots can help with many tasks to reduce human presence such as for delivering, disinfection, cleaning, monitoring, service and many more.
It is unfortunate that COVID-19 happened and strikes us without any warning. One of the solutions to deal with COVID-19 is to maintain social distance between humans.
MCK19 will be our first pilot trial, if this robot works well, we will proceed to other applications.” he added.
Meanwhile Director of Hospital Canselor Tuanku (HCTM), Ukm, Prof. Dato’ Dr Hanafiah Harunarashid, expressed gratitude on the collaborations.
“On behalf of HCTM (UKM), I am very pleased to collaborate with MOSTI and the team from UTM and DF to develop a hospital delivery robot hospital, the first in Malaysia.
This would be inaugural which is especially useful to aid our overwhelmed healthcare system during this pandemic and outbreak.
I foresee robotics and automation will play an important part in hospitals in near future to enhance the delivery of health care, ” he added.
UTM Vice-Chancellor, Prof Datuk Ir Dr Wahid bin Omar said the invention of this robot is another UTM’s helping hand in combating the virus, along with university’s initiatives of to prosper lives.
“As a university that is blessed with multiple expertise, we believe it is our responsibility to help the government especially the frontliners who are struggling to serve the people in this trying times for us all.
Thus through this collaboration we hope that together, we can break the the Covid-19 chain soon,” he added.
MCK19 is expected to be tested at HCTM at the end of this week. If the robot is found useful, DF will commit to mass produce the robot to supply to hospitals in Malaysia or any organisations who need it.
For the long term, the team is planning to produce a more human friendly look and design as in the figure below.
For more. information, please email cfyeong@utm.my or sales@dfautomation.com.

Delivery Robot MCK20

Figure: Some of the concept designs for future commercial Hospital Delivery Robot

Utm Hctm Df Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19’ To Ace Covid 19 02

Figure: The team beside the development of MCK19, Hospital Delivery Robot led by Assoc. Prof. Dr Yeong Che Fai (picture second from left)

InfografikMCK19 190420 1

Figure: Metro Mak Cik Kiah 19 Infographic

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Co-authored by: Dr Yeong Che Fai
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How an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) can help to fight COVID-19?

How an Autonomous Mobile Robot AMR can help to fight COVID 19 01 scaled e1585711033385 1

COVID-19

31st of December, 2019 marked the date where several pneumonia cases arose in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province of China. The World Health Organization (WHO) was the first to recognise that this case did not match any other known viruses. After going through some research, the Chinese authorities later confirmed that it is a new virus and it is temporarily named as “2019-nCOV”. Later, WHO named it as “COVID-19” which stands for ‘CoronaVirus Disease 2019’ on the 11th of February.
The virus somehow spread rapidly and on the 11th of  March, the United Nations agency responsible for international public health declared it a pandemic. The government is currently committed to tackle this problem by reducing the number of new cases rapidly.

COVID-19 in Malaysia

On the 25th of January, Malaysia announced the first COVID-19 case involving three tourists from Singapore who entered Malaysia through Johor on the 23rd of January. The first wave of these cases were detected on the 16th February where the cases rose to 22. By the 27th, the second wave started after 11 days of no new cases being reported. The number of affected people had risen to more than 1000 cases later on.
The Malaysian government took proactive actions to fight over the number of new cases by imposing a two-week RMO (Restriction of Movement Order) which started on the 18th of March and will end on the 31st of March. However, the number of new cases is not reducing; hence the government decided on a two-week extension of RMO, which will end by the 14th of April.
In this hectic situation, solutions are needed to effectively combat the disease. One of the solutions is by preventing individuals from being in direct or indirect contact with the virus. Besides quarantining the infected ones, there are risks that the healthy ones might have been infected. For example, nurses might be infected while they were serving their patients; a bus driver has the chance to contact the infected one in the bus; an officer has a risk too during the disinfection activity. Considering the aforementioned risks, the usage of the Autonomous mobile robot (AMR) could be a helping hand in replacing humans to do all these high infection risk tasks. Robots are immune to the virus and they can be run in a long period of time. You can learn more about AMR here AMR: The new look of AGV.

How can AMR help to fight against Virus?

Autonomous Mobile Robot can assist frontliners to fight COVID-19 in many areas such as to carry out disinfection activity, temperature measurement at public space, medicine delivery in hospitals and food delivery. Other advantages are outlined here: Advantages and Disadvantages of AMR.
Disinfection is one of the main activities in combating COVID-19. Certain areas where the risk of infection is high have to be disinfected, such as hospitals, markets and public transports. For example, in disinfecting a bus, the process involved people to spray disinfectant on the entire surface in the bus before wiping them down. One disinfect process will take around 40 minutes with two human powers. Plus, there are always certain corners that cannot be reached or covered by humans.
Another great alternative is by using the Ultraviolet (UV) Rays which can disinfect the area in five minutes only (source). According to the latest diagnosis and treatment guideline of the novel coronavirus released by the National Commission, the virus is sensitive to UV light and heat. In other words, UV radiation can eliminate the virus effectively. As stated in the guideline, UV light with an intensity of over 1.5 watts per square meter can be used to disinfect indoor spaces. Ventilation should be done to a room after UV disinfection, and people are suggested to enter the room 30 minutes after the process. Although it is effective to kill the virus by using UV lamps, the usage of UV lamps should be cautious as UV radiation can result in skin irritation. Thus it is not suitable for sterilising hands or other parts of the skin (source).
Although UV is able to disinfect the area in five minutes, it requires manual labor to transport the platform from one location to another. In addition, UV rays require a 30 minutes settling time which increases the cycle time. This is where the AMR has the advantage as AMR is able to complete the process automatically without involving any human presence. This also minimizes the chance of infection and reduces exposure to the UV light too. The figure below illustrates the proposed design of AMR with UV and Spraying disinfect equipment.

DF is looking for partners – it could be you!

As the government has pulled out tremendous actions to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, DF intends to contribute an effort for the government in fighting COVID-19 by developing solutions like autonomous UV disinfecting, disinfectant spraying or temperature reading by using AMR. We are actively looking for partners who are experts especially in the field of cleaning, disinfection, sterilisation or hospital operation to collaborate with us to make this project a success. We do hope that we can help to eliminate the virus with these innovations. Feel free to contact us at sales@dfautomation.com if you are interested to explore further.  Take care and stay safe.

 

Autonomous Disinfection Mobile Robot

Figure: Illustration shows proposed AMR design in performing autonomous disinfection using UV and Spraying.
How an Autonomous Mobile Robot AMR can help to fight COVID 19 02Figure: Another concept of disinfection using spraying with Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR)

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Co-authored by: Dr Yeong Che Fai  I  Noor Atikah Soleha Mad Alim  I  Ong Wei Lin  I  Ow Zi Yang  I  Aliya Binti Khairuddin
Illustration by: Ken Wong  I  Robert Ting  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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AMR: The New Look of AGV

AMR Transparent Overlay Diagram scaled e1585711840533

Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR Robot)

What is AGV?

Automated Guided Vehicle or AGV was first introduced by Arthur “Mac” Barrett in 1953. The earliest version of an AGV was a modified tow truck which followed a wire under the floor, allowing it to move and navigate by itself.
Automated Guided Vehicle are used to move things around in the plant facility repetitively. Since its invention, AGVs have been improved to allow it to use alternative guidances such as coloured tape, induction or magnetic tape embedded on the floor plant. However, the AGVs still follow a fixed route, and any route change will require reinstallation of the guidance system. Besides, an AGV is equipped with sensors to detect any obstacles that pop up along its route. To avoid hitting the obstacles, the AGV will slow down or stop moving and alert users by sounding its alarm. It will not be able to change its route or direction.

What is AMR?

AMR stands for Autonomous Mobile Robot. It is a wheeled robot that moves autonomously. Both AMR and AGV share the same functions – moving items from place to place. Sometimes these robots are also called industrial mobile robots. For nearly half a century, AGVs have been moving things around in factories, warehouses and places where material transporting is needed. However, they are challenged by the introduction of new technologies implemented by the AMRs, especially in the demand of achieving Industry 4.0, factory automation and smart manufacturing.
The greatest advantage of AMR over AGV is that AMR provides alternative navigation options. An AMR navigates using a predefined map and plans its own routes to the destination. It can detect obstacles similar to an AGV, but it is slightly smarter because it can avoid the obstacles by navigating around it. Therefore, AMR robot is considered more flexible because it can change its path dynamically with less effort. Meanwhile, an AGV is always “guided”, which means that the AGV operates on a fixed route – usually running along magnetic paths or wires. This shows that there are more possibilities for the AMR to perform better in running its job since space limit is not an issue.
Although an AMR robot is sometimes perceived to be much more costly compared to an AGV, in reality, the AMR could be more cost effective due to its flexibility and ease to set up.
The AMR’s main components include the controller board, computing unit, battery, motors, sensors and camera. It also requires some electronic integration including the safety system, drive system, power switch and warning lamp. Another important and often-overlooked component is the software which acts like the brain for the robot. The software allows users to program and interact with the AMR, besides allowing it to move autonomously. For example, DF uses our in-house NavWiz (or Navigation Wizard) software as the brain to run the whole AMR.

AGV vs AMR – what is the difference?

AMR and AGV have been defined differently by various sources. Technically, AGV always refers to a guided vehicle because its navigation is based on physical guides such as coloured tape, magnetic tape and induction wire, while AMR is a mobile robot that plans its own route based on the map which it had created earlier.
In short, both AGV and AMR are similar in terms of their features and functions in supporting logistics activity. This is because both AGV and AMR can autonomously travel in the manufacturing plants and warehouses after being programmed without needing any assistance from humans. By definition, “autonomous” describes the capability of the device acting alone or independently, while “automated” indicates control or operation by a machine or an automatic equipment. This shows that both AGV and AMR have similar meanings, yet they are introduced with different names. The only difference is the ‘navigation technique’ used by AGV and AMR in moving them autonomously.
The usage of the term ‘AGV’ and ‘AMR’ somehow have given some implications on the custom duty when these robots are being imported to certain countries. The word ‘vehicle’ in AGV may mislead the custom officer into thinking AGV is a ‘vehicle’ or ‘car’ which normally has higher custom duty compared to a robot.
Author by: Noor Atikah Soleha Mad Alim  I  Ken Wong  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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