Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

Many assembly applications require continuous transportation of components between construction and assembly stations, different assembly halls, or from assembly hall to the end destination. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are used to transport components and ensure a reliable relocation.

Historically, vehicles were guided in a fixed circle by a large induction loop, making it difficult to change or add new routes. Because there was no real-time communication, functionality and flexibility was limited. With the advancement of wireless technology and Ethernet networks, real-time control with Industrial Wireless LAN (IWLAN) has become available. This allows continuous communication between the AGV and master PLC every step of the way. Real-time communication empowers your process and boosts overall performance.

Technology Today

Real-time wireless communications enable intelligent navigation technology to modify AGV movement based on ever-changing environmental factors. This ability means that AGVs are no longer limited to travel within a defined path.

Properly positioned access points define the accessible work area. And, depending on the size of the work area, the application could require as little as a single access point or an entire network of access points.

Data is transferred between the control system and vehicles via Industrial Point Coordination Functions (IPCF) or Industrial Point Coordination Function - Management Channel (IPCF-MC) . Standard data such as transport orders, status messages and failsafe communication can run in parallel on the same connection. For this purpose, every vehicle is equipped with an Industrial Ethernet client module that is connected to the vehicle controller.

Because there is no wired connection, communication between the control system and the battery-operated vehicles, and between the vehicles themselves and their environment, must run on a reliable and robust wireless network.

Industrial Point Coordination Function (IPCF)

Siemens proprietary IPCF is made for Industrial Wireless real-time applications. So what is the difference between a standard wireless system and IPCF? IPCF is an add-on enhancement to the 802.11 standard that Siemens developed to improve the usability of 802.11 Wireless LAN systems for real-time control applications.

Using IPCF, the access point works as a traffic coordinator and polls the clients for their IO data in short cycles. This allows PROFINET cycle times as low as 16ms over Wireless, and roaming times below 50ms. No other wireless system on the market is capable of this.


The use of wireless communications can greatly benefit applications where AGVs are utilized. Examples of applications include:

  • Shipping and receiving logistics

  • Warehousing applications

  • Production assembly

Features and benefits

AGVs usind wireless communications provide an array of features and benefits to make your assembly process run more efficiently:

  • IPCF technology enables Wireless LAN use in control applications. With PROFINET update rates as low as 16ms and roaming times below 50 ms, wireless communications deliver the reliability to match its flexibility.

  • The low update rates allow highest performance for most efficient process control

  • Contact-free data transmission eliminates wear and requires low maintenance

  • Wireless communication with AGVs increases flexibility to adjust the process on the fly since there are less physical restrictions