Automated Guided Vehicles; Autonomous Mobile Robots; Automation in hospitals; Logistic in hospitals; Facility Management
The use of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots(AMRs) is steadily increasing. AGVs are vehicles for transporting loads and can move autonomously through buildings without the need for a driver. These vehicles are controlled by sensor-based guidance systems and software running on on-boardcomputers and powered by rechargeable batteries. AMRs are able to understand and move around their environment without being directly supervised by an operator or moving along a fixed path. They are equipped with an array of advanced sensors that enable them to understand and consequently interpret their environment. This allows them to navigate around static obstacles such as furniture, and non-static obstacles such as people, so they are able to do their job efficiently in environments that are not suitable for AGVs. Their flexibility is the main difference from AGVs, which have to follow predefined and usually very inflexible routes. The areas of application for AGVs and AMRs are numerous. As in the past, they are mainly used in the field of internallogistics. However, there are many other areas of application that are continuously being expanded: Floor cleaning, for instance in train station halls or supermarkets,or their application for security in buildings, especially at night. Furthermore, AGVsare used in baggage handling in airports. AMRs can also provide services in hotels,such as guest reception, luggage service or room service. They also can be found in warehouses, farms, and container terminals, as well as in distribution centers, facadecleaning, and flexible manufacturing systems, as well as in aerospace and military equipment. However, AGVs and AMRs also play a major role in the logistics operationsof hospitals, as well as various other healthcare facilities. A shortage of qualified staffand financial cutbacks are forcing hospitals to automate and optimize their organization.As a result, hospitals benefit greatly from the use of AGV and AMR systems through the introduction of lean management, well thought-out processes and clearly defined procedures, and standardized process management. This helps the hospital and its iilogistics department to work effectively and efficiently as well as cost effectively. Inthe course of the thesis, the reasons for the implementation of such systems will be investigated along with the areas of application of AGVs and AMRs including both the advantages and drawbacks as well as the benefits for the facility management. Among the most significant disadvantages are the relatively high acquisition costs for these systems. Consequently, the thesis also looks at what other potential areas of application exist for AGVs and AMRs which would provide a better justification for the substantialinitial investment costs and whether these applications are worth the expense. The findings in this thesis are based on literature studies as well as interviews with an R&Ddepartment manager of an Austrian AGV and AMR manufacturer and the managementof healthcare facilities.