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Why you should retrofit your Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV)

AGV | Francesco Furzi, 13 February 2024

In the rapidly evolving landscape of robotics and automation, the necessity for modernizing Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) systems is increasingly evident. AGV retrofit emerges as a comprehensive solution, offering an update of existing systems to match the reliability and support of new ones.


This approach does not only extend the lifespan of AGVs but also enhances their functionality and operational efficiency, incorporating modern service and diagnostic tools. Importantly, an AGV retrofit can often be executed seamlessly, without disrupting ongoing production processes.

From a financial perspective, retrofitting an existing AGV with updated controls and wiring presents a cost-effective alternative, often amounting to less than half the investment required for a new AGVs system. This cost efficiency, paired with the potential for equal or improved warranty terms, makes AGV retrofit a strategic consideration for leaders in industries reliant on automation technology.

Retrofitting existing Automated Guided Vehicles

The retrofitting of existing AGVs presents a viable solution for companies utilizing uniquely designed AGVs, tailored for specific tasks. This process not only retains the core functionality of these specialized vehicles but also addresses the factors contributing to their obsolescence and underperformance. The retrofit encompasses several critical steps:

  • Comprehensive overhaul of the vehicle’s body, including necessary modifications to accommodate new technologies.
  • Replacement and upgrade of motors and drives to enhance operational efficiency.
  • Updating of on-board electronics, such as CPUs and input/output boards, to modern standards.
  • Revamping the AGV management system, including the server and infrastructure components.
  • Implementing cutting-edge maintenance technologies for improved reliability and safety.

Furthermore, the heart of an AGV system – the computer controls, both onboard and offboard – often requires significant attention. After a decade or more, these controls can become unreliable and challenging to maintain. The retrofit process tackles these issues by replacing outdated onboard controls, obsolete components, and control wiring, while also overhauling the hydraulic systems. Offboard controls generally necessitate a complete hardware replacement and software upgrades or replacements, ensuring the entire AGV system is up to date with the latest technological advancements.

Depending on the specific requirements and condition of the AGVs, additional services such as sandblasting, repainting of AGV frames, welding, and modifications to the frames and functions are undertaken.

The result of this comprehensive retrofit process is an upgraded fleet of AGVs that not only meets current operational standards but also offers improved efficiency and safety. By choosing to retrofit, companies can significantly extend the lifespan of existing AGVs. This approach not only proves to be cost-effective but also aligns with the goal of maintaining high productivity and operational continuity in a dynamic market.

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Kollmorgen-guided AGVs

In the realm of Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) retrofit, a gradual modernization approach can offer a practical and economically feasible solution. This method allows for a seamless transition in which both older and newer generation AGVs operate concurrently within the same facility during the upgrade phase. The process for implementing such a retrofit, particularly when incorporating Kollmorgen-guided AGVs, typically involves the following steps:

  1. The initial phase involves a comprehensive study of the current AGV system's functional specifications to assess technical feasibility. This includes reviewing the system's operation, gathering input from management, operators, and technicians about any operational shortcomings or parts supply issues, and examining the Bill of Materials (BOMs) for the AGVs and AGV system to identify components no longer supported by the manufacturer. The assessment also involves a pre-retrofit inspection of each vehicle to verify the operation of motors and other functions, and documentation of any concerns for discussion with the customer. A detailed plan is then formulated, outlining the parts to be replaced or rebuilt, and a description of the AGV operations during the retrofit project. This phase concludes with a written assessment for customer approval, detailing any recommended work not covered in the initial proposal, such as frame modifications, welding, or repairs.

  2. The next step involves replacing the AGV control system with a latest-generation Kollmorgen NDC8, a platform notable for its versatility and adaptability, making it suitable for a wide range of AGV applications. Among the main advantages of this platform we can highlight:
  • Advanced navigation and control capabilities
  • Scalability and flexibility
  • The possibilities of customization and integration
  • User-friendliness of the interface
  • Support for Industry 4.0 Smart Industry Applications

  1. The final stage is the sequential replacement of AGVs, either through upgrading existing vehicles or integrating completely new ones, ensuring a smooth transition to a fully modernized system.

This methodical approach ensures that the production system remains operational throughout the retrofit process, with minimal disruption to the ongoing operations. The result is a harmonized AGV system that combines the reliability and efficiency of new technology with the familiar operational dynamics of the existing setup.

Let’s not forget that the retrofit intervention can cover more than just the AGV. It is, in fact, possible to upgrade the plant supervision system to a more advanced solution, like the l’A.Celli Smart Logistix®, without any loss of existing data.

Case study

To conclude what has been said so far, we would like to present a real-life project performed by Taiprora, the division of the A.Celli Group specialized in software and automation engineering for intralogistics.

In the following case, the customer was a well-known multinational pharmaceutical company who requested a revamping of one of its AGV systems consisted of the following components:

  • 2 laser-guided AGVs equipped with forks for loading and unloading UDCs;
  • 2 SIOX networks to which door status signals are connected;
  • 28 VISOLUX, systems to interface via optical messages the AGVs and Gorla doors for access to the various rooms;
  • 1 PC Server NDC 8 for managing the AGVs and the map and traffic;
  • 1 C-Way Client PC for interaction with the NDC 8 Server.

To achieve the best result and optimize AGV system, the scope of work included the following intervention:

  • Replacement of control electronics with standard Kollmorgen NDC8;
  • Replacement of navigation system with standard Kollmorgen NDC8;
  • Mechanical modification of fork spacing in order to be able to handle the following Loading Units (UDC);
  • AGV software development and related NDC navigation system.

In terms of results, the AGVs revamping has brought numerous benefits to our client, including:

  • Technology upgrade due to the installation of the latest technologies;
  • Improved performance;
  • Upgrade of safety devices with related adaptation to new regulations;
  • CE recertification;
  • Possibility of relying on a practically new AGV, with significantly lower costs than buying a new vehicle.

Do you want to find out what A.Celli can do to renew your AGV system? Click below and request a free, no-obligation consultation with our experts!

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