With yellows lights flashing and music playing, a small automated guided vehicle enters through some large doors at Eaton-Kenway's manufacturing plant at 525 W. 350 North.
Unlike previous vehicles of this type that followed a wire attached to the floor, the new AGV does a series of stops, starts, right and left turns for a group of government and business leaders and the news media as the company unveils Project Eagle.Project Eagle features AGVs about 6 feet long (without the bumpers), less than 3 feet high and about 4 feet wide. As Phil Smith, manager of technical operations at Eaton-Kenway, explains what the machine is doing, it goes about lifting a load of material, carrying it a short distance in simulation of an application in an industrial setting and then placing the material back on a loading rack.
All of this was done without wires or wall-mounted targets. It was done with advanced technology in inertial platforms and a decoder system, said Steve Barlow, vice president of sales, who was substituting for company President Richard M. Mooney, who was recovering from surgery.
Smith said the old units that followed floor-imbedded wires lacked flexibility. Project Eagle allows a company to pre-program the AGV's movements, and no wires are necessary. He said the music not only entertains but lets company employees know the machine is coming so they can get out of the way.
Barlow said the majority of Eaton-Kenway's business is done out-of-state and the company currently has 50 percent of the market share in the automated guided vehicle business. Founded in 1964, the company has experienced explosive growth and in the past three years has introduced 52 products in the form of storage retrieval vehicles and product storage systems, Barlow said.
Use of Project Eagle and other high-technology systems will help restore the United States' leadership in manufacturing technology, he said.
Other speakers were Lt. Gov. W. Val Oveson and Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis, who noted that Eaton-Kenway's corporate office is located at 515 E. 100 South in Salt Lake City.