SME Innovation | An autonomous forklift

The innovation: Noovelia’s self-guided forklift moves autonomously through the factory or warehouse, orients itself in space, avoids obstacles, locates the object to be moved or the load and carries out the work without human intervention.

Posted at 11:00 am

Marc Tison

Marc Tison
The press

Who ?

Noovelia was founded in January 2019, a merger of three companies with complementary activities. The two largest, Divel and Epsilia, were dedicated to the design and manufacture of autonomous industrial vehicles (AMR/AGV) on the one hand, and the development of production and inventory management software based on agri-food traceability on the other. In 2018, Dive contributed to the creation of the Research Chair in Intelligent Navigation of Autonomous Industrial Vehicles at UQTR, which provided around forty university interns to the project.

A first prototype of an autonomous vehicle, developed by the chair and Noovelia, was completed in 2019.

On this technological basis, the Louiseville-based company has started the development of two autonomous mobile robots: a mobile load transport platform and a forklift.

Adaptable and flexible software and equipment were required. That’s why we decided to develop our own navigation algorithms with our research chair.

Stéphane Elliott, Vice President of Business Development at Noovelia


PHOTO PROVIDED BY NOOVELIA

The autonomous forklift can lift and deposit a load on the ground, at a height, in narrow areas or on conveyor belts.

Natural navigation

The handling platform and forklift share 80% the same internal infrastructure and functionalities.

For these two devices, Noovelia and the UQTR chair have developed a “movement by natural navigation” system, that is, they orient themselves by identifying the elements of their environment.

“It’s the vehicle that decides where to go,” says Stéphane Elliott. We put laser sensors on it so it can follow its surroundings to see where it is. »


PHOTO MACAM.TV PROVIDED BY NOOVELIA

Stéphane Elliott was President of Divel at the time of the merger that created Noovelia in 2019 and is now Vice President of Business Development for the new company.

A map of the places is left in his memory. “He knows the destination, where we want him to go, and from there he chooses his path. »

Designed and made in Quebec

The forklift can lift and place a load on the ground, at a height, in narrow areas or on conveyor belts.

Its payload can reach 2,268 kg (5,000 lb), which is almost double that of most competitor carts, says Stéphane Elliott. “We did it to be in a slightly different field,” he says.

“Because we have the technology, we can customize our programming just like our vehicle or even its tools. »

To stand out, the company also took care of the industrial design of its products, which it entrusted to the Novo company from Trois-Rivières.

“There are still parts that come from Asia, but the design, manufacturing and software development is 100% Quebecois,” says Stéphane Elliott.

The future

Until recently, Noovelia was focused on the Quebec market. “Now that we have our standard products that are proving themselves more and more, we have a lot of requests,” notes the vice president. We are in the process of signing treaties on the Ontario side and we have started advertising a lot in the Northern United States. »

An increase in orders will not cause any difficulties for the company with around 70 employees. “We will not be limited by the crowd. Because it is a modular concept and we do a lot of business with subcontractors and regional partners, we can double or triple our production. »

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