The next level in Hospital Automation

The Royal Adelaide Hospital’s fleet of 25 Automated Guidance Vehicles (AGVs) are responsible for distributing food, linen, waste, pharmaceuticals and stores, 24/7 365 days.

The AGV system controls 14 dedicated lifts and services 31 lobbies over 9 floors, including 44 CSSD operating suites.

The hospital aisles are shared with staff and other traffic therefore the on-board safety sensors allow the vehicles to avoid personal injury and damage to the payload, surrounding items and infrastructure.

The new flexible AGV control system offers many benefits, such as lower operating costs, reduced transport damage and consistent delivery times.


System Highlights

  • 500 km (equal to 750,000 steps) of material movement per day using 14 dedicated lifts controlled by the MAXAGV Control System.
  • Over 300 pick-up and delivery locations serving 31 lobbies over 9 floors.
  • Hundreds of tonnes of materials delivered every day.
  • On-board RFID readers simplify and reduce the infrastructure required.
  • Automatic charge stations with minimal infrastructure intrusion.


Customer requirements

A hardware life cycle upgrade was required for the client’s existing fleet of 25 AGVs, located at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH). The existing AGV Control System also had limited support from the previous supplier. Technology had taken a significant step forward to a more modern, Window based, smart and easy to edit control software system. RA Health provided project consultancy from initial concept, through to design, implementation, and closure stages.

MAXAGV confirmed the existing AGV could be converted to the MAXAGV control hardware and retain the existing essential hardware, drive etc. Due to this the AGV system could be upgraded at minimal expense to provide an increased lifespan at a lower ongoing running cost.

After the tender was accepted RA Health commenced the project, converting some of the AGVs hardware and the control system. More than 800 patients continued to rely on the AGV system all day and all night whilst the upgrade was carried out.



The hospital was required to maintain business as usual while the work was performed with minimal disruption to normal operation. This challenging task was overcome by the RA Health and RAH project teams by developing a strategy to run separable portions in parallel during conversions to minimise manual labour support.

A risk assessment was carried out at the beginning of the project leading to all high-risk activities being mitigated through a pre-work strategy leading to almost no impact to the hospital’s day to day operation and all targets were delivered on time or earlier.



The solution was to convert 25 of the existing AGVs with the new MAXAGV hardware and control system while removing EOL equipment during the conversion. The project was performed in 2 separable portions to reduce overall risk to project CSSD and main hospital.

RA Health had a team of technicians from all over Australia, assist with the conversions and onsite commissioning assisted by MAXAGV either remotely or onsite during the duration of the project. This was a 24-hour process to minimise the duration of the project and any inconvenience to the hospital.

The control system and information were recreated using the MAXAGV platform with new communication to existing equipment.

To reduce the impact on hospital operations, half the AGVs were converted and commissioned by a night shift team while the existing AGV system was not being used. This meant there were two AGV systems running parallel with control methods implemented to allow this hybrid scenario.

The project implementation was very successful with the cutover reporting no issues or impact on hospital operations. After the cutover the remaining AGVs were converted and introduced into the system.

The MAXAGV system is a state-of-the-art, dependable AGV Control System that runs on a modern client server Windows environment. Max Control System handles everything from transport and WMS warehousing, load tracking, buffering and order swapping to optimal dynamic route selection, location selection, charge control, priorities, and dead lock prevention – all shown in real time 2D & 3D visualisation.

The MAX Control system can make split second decisions along the AGV’s guidance path to select optimum routes to a specific destination and reallocation of missions, thus optimising efficiency.

The Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) and Site Acceptance Test (SAT) were successful on the first attempt with no issues recorded. The flexible system can now be easily adjusted, routes moved, and traffic optimised by the RA Health team with technicians available Australia wide.


“One of the best executed projects I have been
involved in whilst working for Downer”

Andrew Elkin - Head of Technology & Innovation, Downer Group



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