Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), a member of the SATS Group, has commenced a proof-of-concept trial using Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) in its cargo terminal at Barcelona Airport.

The trial of Linde AGV forklift trucks will last for seven months and, if successful, will see the technology rolled out across other WFS stations in the Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia (EMEAA) region.

Two types of AGV forklifts will be used in the Barcelona facility within the inbound and outbound operational areas. They will move cargo from the breakdown areas to racking storage locations within the warehouse as well as to the cargo delivery area. “We have allocated dedicated pick-up areas for the trials in addition to 156 pallet storage rack locations,” said Barcelona station manager, Marc Grau.

The AGV forklifts have been chosen for their ability to provide automated transport of pallets and to serve both low and high cargo storage positions. To provide a one-system solution, the trial has also integrated WFS’s Cargospot Mobile warehouse management system, supplied by CHAMP Cargosystems, with AGV Robotic WMS.

In line with SATS Group’s vision, WFS is actively exploring opportunities presented by automation solutions, with trials also including AGV ground handling tractors to move cargo between warehouse and airport apron operations. As part of its evaluation process for this latest proof-of-concept, WFS’s Operational Excellence team was able to see the solution already in use in a logistics warehouse facility managing import and export shipments in the automotive industry.

WFS staff

The trial will run for seven months

The AGV forklift trial will explore how the vehicles are able to reduce the number of transport tasks currently undertaken by cargo agent personnel, giving them more time to conduct other important duties, as well as assessing opportunities for productivity improvements. The trial will be carried out in accordance with racking safety requirements and will adhere to safety distances for transportation.

“We are very much looking forward to seeing how the use of AGV technology can enhance our cargo warehouse operations. We have chosen to do this first AGV forklift trial in Barcelona because it is a prime cargo station in the WFS network. Our team in Spain are helping to drive the introduction of new technologies into our operations and to provide the proof-of-concept we need before we roll out these solutions at other cargo stations in our network,” said Jimi Daniel Hansen, vice president Operational Excellence – EMEAA at WFS.

Image: WFS