Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) & AI in Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

Solving for X



by John Hayes, VP Marketing and Sales


Since 1949, there have been millions of miles logged by Volkswagen Beetle automobiles – affectionately referred to as “The Bug.” More miles mean nothing in the world of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) if actionable and predictive data isn’t collected and used to achieve optimal throughput, productivity, and profitability. This data can also be used to fix and even prevent the kind of bug you don’t want to have associated with your technology.

While there are a number of vendors in the AGV space, only one solution uses Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metrics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its robotics to quantify best practice solutions. Vecna Robotics continuously redesigns and redefines its algorithms and operations, using Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and Theory of Constraint (ToC) principles.

OEE is a well-established standard for measuring the degree to which machinery on the plant floor is optimized. The amount of downtime is quantified with the OEE metric along with the delta or gap for maximum productivity. Until recently, OEE simply informed operations managers and plant managers of the percentage of lost productivity, throughput, and output. For example, a machine that could produce 100 units per hour may be producing only 80 units per hour. The ability to recognize the delta (20 units per hour), however, does not identify the rationale nor the corrective action needed to reach full optimization.

C-level executives initially hearing about Big Data, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and Industry 4.0 responded with a big, “So what?” The value proposition wasn’t clear to them. Simply collecting data is meaningless. The data must provide information on how to optimize operations, produce more products, increase turns, reduce waste, etc. Data that is not actionable is directly antithetical to Lean Manufacturing, and many people did not understand how this data could help their businesses.

Similarly, when Vecna Robotics introduced 24/7 IIoT monitoring with AGVs in 2017, some industry experts did not understand the value proposition. The sensors that guided collision-free self-driving vehicles were collecting data. However, many materials handling, manufacturing, and fulfillment experts failed to see how those metrics actually made every pass with an AGV better, more efficient, more productive, and more profitable.

Developed using state-of-the-art technologies, Vecna Robotics AGVs deliver green-light metrics and analytical capabilities to effectively reduce downtime while increasing throughput and profits.

Effective use of IIoT and lean manufacturing methodologies can deliver realtime continuous improvement. The manufacturing world is now data-driven and there is a real opportunity to use AGVs to add to this data mix. Only then can an OEE model be fully realized. Vecna Robotics provides proven, practical, best-of-breed lean manufacturing solutions that are used every day to connect machines, produce realtime data, and create outsized competitive advantage.

Results to expect

  • Detect errors before they occur
  • Strong increase in performance / uptime (24/7 IIoT Monitoring pushes uptime to over 95%)
  • Detect bottlenecks, identify problem areas, and resolve the issues as part of continuous improvement efforts

Vecna Robotics customers also often experience a positive shift in culture. Every stakeholder – from operators to engineers to production and management teams – has visibility into plant performance, efficiency, and quality data that drives increased profitability. This transparency helps break down departmental siloes, leading to a more collaborative work environment.

Author Profile

John Hayes, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Vecna Robotics, is a widely respected thought leader for the manufacturing, distribution, and material handling industries and a Supply & Demand Chain Executive “Pros to Know” recipient. For more than twenty years he has been evaluating, designing, developing, and implementing innovative software and hardware solutions with a particular focus in the AGV (automated guided vehicle) space. Contact John at john.hayes@vecna.com.