manufacturingtechnologyinsights

Aethon: Automating Intralogistics with Robots

CIO VendorAldo Zini, President & CEO
In recent times, use of robotics technology has become a force to reckon with, revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and this can be attributed to the fact that industrial robots are getting smarter, faster, and cheaper today, than what they were a decade back. Due to increased potential, manufacturing robots are no longer tied to just conveyor belts, forklifts, and logic-controlled mechanized arms; rather, collaborative mobile robots—that have the ability to do physical work, when integrated into the workforce—have stepped into the shop floors. With automation in the picture, organizations have recognized that the manual tasks associated with internal logistics are draining their business productivity. Addressing this concern, Aethon has created TUG robots, in light of mechanizing the transportation of goods and supplies in manufacturing environments. “TUG is designed to automate the repetitive and non-value added delivery and transportation tasks making employees more productive and allowing them to focus on more meaningful tasks,” explains Aldo Zini, President and CEO of Aethon.

Manually moving material inside organizations exhausts significant resources, impacts employee safety and creates inefficiency including increased labor costs and cycle time, and constricted downstream operations. Addressing the needs of manufacturers, Aethon’s TUG automates intralogistics within the organization by autonomously transporting and delivering resources like raw materials, work in progress products (WIP), and finished goods to their immediate points of use. Unlike the available automatic guided vehicles (AGV), TUG has a robust navigation system with an omni-directional locomotion drive train with self-charging capabilities. Features like touch screens, mobile compatibility, lasers, and sensors allow TUG to navigate around obstacles without the need for tracks, magnets, or beacons.

TUG is designed to automate the repetitive and non-value added delivery and transportation tasks


Aethon has incorporated wireless integration to buildings including elevators, doors, and alarms allowing TUG to ride elevators, open doors, and respond to safety alerts. “We’ve been able to successfully implement TUG in several sites, including some very large manufacturing facilities, and I think we’re the only ones in the world right now with that capability,” Zini mentions. With a capability to lift 1,400 lbs of weight and perform collaborative procedures using a control server called the TUG Fleet Manager, TUG is ideal for material movement and transportation tasks in manufacturing environments. Integration of TUG Fleet Manager to ERP and MES systems also allows automatic dispatch and real-time material movement updates.

For instance, Aethon once assisted Continental Automotive Systems (CAS), a high-volume electronics manufacturer, as they were looking for Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) to reduce workload associated with material transport within the factory. The main objective to implement AMRs was to pick up racks weighing 600 lbs and move them from End of Line to central packing stations. Collision avoidance was also a major concern for CAS due to a lot of pedestrian traffic within the factory’s floor. Packed with enormous weight-lifting capabilities combined with object-detection sensors, Aethon’s TUG robot reduced the labor costs and worker safety issues.

As manufacturers look for ways to keep pace with the increasingly volatile business environment, Aethon is deeply focused to employ technology that rewards flexibility and efficiency and can adapt in real-time. TUG industrial robotic technology is perfect for manufacturers whose business models depend on multiple destinations and tasks, with variable frequency, reduced batch sizes, and unpredictable workflows. Aethon is also working on new software tools that allow manufacturing engineers to manage the robot fleet themselves. This new functionality enables fleet-wide unattended management and remote control of all robots in a facility. With innovative products like TUG, Aethon is all set to rewire the industrial revolution.