According to EIN News, the worldwide market for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) is experiencing phenomenal growth (10.9% compound annual growth rate from 2014 to 2022) and is expected to top the 7 billion mark in that timeframe. The report cites labor shortages increasing labor costs globally – but innovations also are spurring the rise of the machines.
For the uninitiated, AGVs are computer-controlled trackless load carriers that traverse a facility – but without a driver. How, you might ask? Through a cutting-edge combination of software and hardware that allows the AGVs to navigate around people, machines, inventory and other obstacles … much like a self-driving car. AGVS have almost limitless applications, as they can transport raw materials, semi-finished materials or finished goods to and from their next stop, whether that is a storage area, assembly line or shipping dock.
MHI provides a bit more detail on how AGVs work: [They] navigate in the facility using several guidance technologies including floor-surface mounted magnetic tape or bars, lasers, optical sensors, and magnet/gyroscope based inertial guidance. These guidance technologies make it easy to change the routes and expand the AGV system in response to facility changes for a flexible and scalable material handling solution.
“AGV systems are extremely flexible and can be adapted to grow with an organization,” notes Mark Stevenson, director of sales for Europe for AGV manufacturer John Bean Technologies Corporation, in Materials Handling World Magazine. “They can also relieve staff of simple repetitive tasks, so that their skills can be better utilized in other parts of the process, leading to a more streamlined, cost-efficient operation. We typically see payback well within two years.”
AGVs come in several forms, including relatively simple automated carts, unit load vehicles, tuggers and automated forklifts – and, according to MHI, provide a slew of benefits, including:
- Automatic line balancing
- Cost control
- Facility maintenance
- Reduced operating costs
- Reduced product damage
- Greater Safety
An AGV can provide great value, even for smaller companies that may think their operation just isn’t big enough to justify the purchase of one. But in some cases, a less expensive solution may be in order. Typically, automation provides a substantial return on what may be a significant capital investment.
If you’d like to discuss the potential value of AGVs – or any other material handling solutions – to your organization, contact the high-density used warehouse equipment storage specialists at Outsource Equipment Company today at 866-971-1032 or 407-695-5545.