Colloquium announcement

Faculty of Engineering Technology

Department Design, Production and Management
Master programme Industrial Design Engineering

As part of his / her masterassignment

Joost van Vliet

will hold a speech entitled:

Development of a flexible and expandable transportation system of automated guided vehicles

RoomWH224 (VR-lab)


In the past, automation was exclusively used for repetitive work of big machines in factories. Tasks had to be predictable and narrowly defined. These days, a new age of automation is on the rise. Advanced machines become more productive, flexible and learn new skills from experiences. Air France-KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is interested in these advancements and could benefit by being an early adaptor of advanced robotics. Looking at the growth rate and future perspective of the airline holding company, it is desired to develop a flexible and scalable transportation system that can fulfill many purposes and can adapt to emerging innovations and demands. For this assignment, a system of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) is designed for KLM. An AGV is an unmanned mobile robot that can operate autonomously. Because the numerous divisions of KLM work with all kinds of movable goods, there are many opportunities to expand. This will result in an interdivisional material handling system that increases the efficiency of the company’s logistical processes.

The main goal of the assignment reads as follows:

Developing a flexible and expandable system of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) with the main task to transport goods across the airport. This system will be comprised of (a) one or more AGVs, (b) a supervisory control system and (c) an associated infrastructure.

First, the underlying structure of the AGV system is established. The comprehensive system is decomposed into subsystems, defined as black boxes. This means that there are various possible solutions to enable their specified outputs. They can be modified to adapt to innovations and utilize the best mechanisms. Expansion modules are designed based on future scenarios, to predict the forthcoming expansion order and to prepare the variable setup of the AGV accordingly.

It is determined that existing AGV systems cannot be used to create the generic, flexible system that is envisioned. Therefore, a custom AGV is designed and constructed into a functional full-scale prototype, which offered the unique opportunity to test the subsystems empirically. A strong foundation has been set up for the AGV system, which can provide Air France-KLM with a system that saves costs, boosts productivity and offers a competitive advantage by being an early adopter of game-changing technologies.