Siemens Partners With Parmley Graham and AR Controls to Build Bespoke AGVs

Siemens says the collaboration will produce customized automated guided vehicles across industries.

Siemens Digital Industries

A Siemens AGV at a production site.
Siemens Digital Industry has partnered with U.K.-based providers of industrial automation and integration services to offer customized automated guided vehicles or AGVs across industries.

As demand grows across industries for automated materials handling, Siemens Digital Industries Software today said it has partnered with Parmley Graham Ltd. and AR Controls to produce automated guided vehicles, or AGVs.

“The U.K. supply chain market is growing exponentially, and most manufacturers are now investing in technologies to boost their own logistics,” stated Brian Holliday, managing director of Siemens Digital Industries. “AGVs are a crucial part of this investment.”

Nuremberg, Germany-based Siemens Digital Industries (DI) provides automation and digitalization for the process and discrete industries. The unit of Siemens AG said it has about 75,000 employees worldwide and optimizes its products and services to help customers increase productivity and flexibility.

Siemens part of AGV growth

The collaboration comes at a time when the demand for AGVs is increasing, Siemens noted. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many industries, especially logistics providers, which have struggled to get essentials to consumers during lockdowns and border closings.

The global market for AGVs could grow from $2 billion (U.S.) in 2021 to $3.72 billion in 2028, experiencing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.3%, forecast Fortune Business Insights.

Robots can boost warehousing efficiency and streamline logistics management, as well as lower labor costs, speed up deliveries, and reduce the risk of workplace injury, said Siemens DI. They can also be integrated to achieve digitalization and smart factory goals, the company added.

The Siemens AGV kit includes SIMOVE, a standardized platform for applications across industries. Siemens last year expanded it to include an omnidirectional driving module.

The kit also includes the SIMATIC MICRO-DRIVE, a safety-related servo drive system that covers a wide range of applications in the protective extra-low voltage range (24 to 48 V DC). Servo drives are used extensively when building AGVs. 

“These compatible controllers from the SIMATIC portfolios optimally complement the motion-control functionalities of this future-proof solution,” said the company.

AGV at Siemens' Manchester headquarters

AGV at Siemens' Manchester, U.K., headquarters. Source: Siemens DI

U.K. collaborators tailor robots

Manufacturers across industries have had to rethink processes and find efficiencies, according to Siemens. They considered new ways of moving goods internally and how to deal with labor shortages resulting from both “Brexit” and the pandemic.

Siemens said it is designing and manufacturing the AGVs with Parmley Graham, a Gateshead, U.K.-based leader in industrial automation, and AR Controls, a Sunderland, U.K.-based expert in integration and robotics.

Parmley Graham is supporting the project by providing hardware specifications, organizing kit-formed bills of material, and sourcing of other third-party products for the AGVs. AR Controls is applying its experience to designing and building the new robot line.

The partners said they are building on their existing success in providing hundreds of AGV kits to a major automotive manufacturer that has a production plant in the north of England.

“Partners like Parmley Graham that have a legacy in automation were well-equipped with the right technologies and experience to deliver AGVs to the automotive manufacturer,” said Holliday. “It is also a testimony that given an opportunity, innovation can help generate new income streams for businesses in these testing times.”

Nick Wilson, managing director at Parmley Graham, added: “We work in partnership with organizations across a wide spectrum of industries. This collaboration helped produce the AGVs for a burgeoning need to meet efficiencies in warehousing, intralogistics, and logistics across many industries.”

“Our experienced engineering team regularly delivers innovative solutions, training, and support that is tailored to the diverse needs of our varied customer base,” he said. “We take our initiatives seriously and have appointed a project manager to oversee the production of the AGVs. We will be able to deliver bespoke solutions for AGVs to a range of customers in the pharmaceutical, food and drink, and logistics industries”

Andy Ramsey, founder and managing director of AR Controls, said, “We have a portfolio of automotive manufacturers for whom we provide services like sensing, position control, visual inspection, machine safety, audio-indent, robotics, drives and programmable logic control, so partnering with Siemens and Parmley Graham to produce AGVs is a very exciting project for us. We look forward to a fruitful outcome of this alliance.”

The standardized SIMOVE software for vehicle automation, navigation and fleet management enables machine builders to automate AGV applications based on Siemens products and technologies.

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Siemens Digital Industries

A Siemens AGV at a production site.

Robot Technologies