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Driverless transport vehicles (FTF) have been established in logistics and production for quite some time. In the healthcare sector, however, they are only just gaining a foothold, or transport role, as it were. There is a lot to be done in this regard: From distributing medicines, hygiene articles, meals or laundry to transporting complete X-ray systems in hospitals across departments. As in their original habitats, AGVs can also ensure more efficient processes and better use of resources in their new environment.

Flexible and powerful

For FTF manufacturers, however, this also means the need to adapt. Not everything that works in production and logistics can be transferred one-to-one to the healthcare sector. Fan and drive specialist ebm-papst, based in Mulfingen, Germany, recognized the situation in good time and therefore offers a variety of drive combinations that can be optimally adapted to the respective task situation. With the ArgoDrive, for example, a compact and easy-to-integrate drive-steer system including wheel was developed that can move loads of 100 kilograms ("Light"), 300 kilograms ("Standard") or 500 kilograms ("Heavy") per drive axle, depending on the version. Combined up to the maximum configuration level with four drive/steer systems of the "Heavy" variant, the ArgoDrive even enables a payload of up to two tons. This means that even the X-ray system mentioned above, which weighs several tons, can be moved within a clinic without any problems.

Compact and mobile

A drive unit of the ArgoDrive consists of two motors, gears, sensors and all necessary connections. Thanks to the superimposed gearbox, the two motors can contribute to steering, accelerating, driving or braking, depending on the requirements. The unlimited steering angle basically ensures the greatest possible mobility of the vehicle - even from a standstill. With two or more drive/steer systems fitted, an AGV equipped in this way already has omnidirectional freedom of movement, which enables maneuvering even in very cramped conditions. In this case, two additional freely movable support wheels increase the load capacity and at the same time ensure the necessary stability of the AGV.

Low maintenance, reliable and safe

As is the case everywhere, the reliable operation and safety of driverless transport vehicles play a paramount role in the field of medical technology. For this reason, ebm-papst attaches great importance to the statement that the drive units are unconditionally designed for reliability over the complete service life. Should wear parts such as the tires require replacement after a long period of operation, the "tire change" is easily possible without removing the drive unit. In addition, the smooth wheel surfaces are designed to be easily cleaned or disinfected to suit the environment.

And anyone capable of transporting loads of up to two tons in areas frequented by people must of course have the appropriate safety equipment. Safety sensors, for example, ensure continuous scanning of the surroundings so that emergency braking can be carried out immediately if the protective fields in front of the vehicle are breached. The ArgoDrive supports this function as well as all other typical and necessary safety requirements of an AGV.