Automated guided vehicle design and installation increases production speed, and eliminates damage to materials...

SID-TEC helps Duke Energy power plant regain control of its coal unloader.

ABOVE: Up to 65,000 pounds of steel coils are efficiently moved through various factory areas so that it can be formed into steel posts, beams and support frames for the construction industry. Prior to the ADV being installed, overhead gantry cranes were used to move the steel, requiring constant operator interaction, a slow production process and frequent damage to the steel due to excessive handling.

Machine control, drive control cabinets designed and built by SID-TEC for GE Instrument Transformers of Clearwater, Florida.
Machine control, drive control cabinets designed and built by SID-TEC for GE Instrument Transformers of Clearwater, Florida.

The AGV runs on rails from one end of the shop to the other, requiring a fraction of human interaction and reduces damage to the steel coils by eliminating frequent crane pickups.

The Final Product: Steel 2x4 posts and support frames for residential and commercial building construction. These trusses replace usual wooden 2x4's.


1) Creating and programming an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) to transport coiled steel from factory entrance through the manufacturing process efficiently and safely.

2) Eliminating the use of cranes and reducing damage to steel coils.

Automated Guided Vehicle built by Florida Handling Systems for a major steel truss manufacturer used to replace wooden 2x4 building trusses.

The original bottlenecked operation

Large bulk rolls of steel sheet metal were brought into the top end of the factory where it was slitted into various widths needed for the 25 different forming machines in the shop. Multiple overhead gantry cranes were used to get the coils down to the forming machines, requiring repeated handling of the coils causing frequent damage and bending of the steel. This in turn would cause malfunctions of the forming machines due to bent edges and twisted material jamming the machines. A LOT of man power was being used to move the coils around the production facility, and the cranes nearest the slitter bay were being tied up moving material down the shop, causing delays in getting material into the forming machines area.

Building an automated transport system

The solution was to build an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) running on rails from one end of the factory down the entire length of the facility. It had to be capable of transporting 65,000 pounds of steel coils at a time from the slitter loading bay to the forming machine areas, and eliminate the use of the gantry cranes.


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SID-TEC hired to design controls and propulsion system

SID-TEC was contracted by FHS to design and install the controls and propulsion for the AGV. A large battery pack was used and the propulsion was done using a modified electric forklift motor and controller. A programmable logic controller (PLC) and keypad were used for the operator interface, destination and location controls.

Easy operator controls, programmable destinations

At the start of the day the unit would be unhooked from the battery charger and capable of working all day on its internal battery. The AGV was programmed to immediately move to the slitting bay and wait there to be loaded. The various destinations for the steel would then be programmed into the system, and a simple START button pressed. AGV would then move along rails to the first destination and wait there until unloaded. Then the START button would send the AGV to the next station and so on to the last stop in the production line. Once fully unloaded the AGV moved back to the slitter bay, ready to start the process again.

Personnel safety challenges

The greatest challenge in this project was the operation of the anti-collision sensors and controllers which are used to avoid the AGV running into people or equipment that may be in the path of travel. The sensors were powered from the main battery with an electrical decoupling of the 24 Volts DC power supply to ensure operational drain on the battery wouldn't interfere with the detection ability of the sensors.

Smoother production flow with reduced maintenance and downtime

The benefits for the customer are that the cranes have been freed up to perform the functions they were designed for, which is to put coils onto the forming machines and there is no longer the necessity for operators to move coils up and down the forming area. The coils are also not being excessively handled, reducing material damage and saving faulty operation in the forming machines.


"FHS [Florida Handling Systems] acknowledges the high level of competence and expertise displayed by SID-TEC in solving complex programming and electrical issues to deliver a premium product to our customer. I would highly recommend SID-TEC to anyone needing industrial or commercial programming and electrical control expertise."

— David Vives

Florida Handling Systems Inc.

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