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Meet our new General Manager: A true AGV believer

20 Jan 2016
Samuel Alexandersson

Meet our new General Manager: A true AGV believer

Markus Johansson was appointed General Manager of Kollmorgen Automation AB on October 12, 2015. He holds an Executive MBA in General Industrial Management as well as a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. Markus, who joined Kollmorgen in 2009, has always worked in roles closely connected to automation and controls, for example, in the automotive industry. In this interview, he gives his view of the automated guided vehicle (AGV) market today and points out the trends.

The AGV market has grown steadily in the last few years, will this continue?

Everybody agrees that automation is the way forward, but there are many opinions on how. What we see now is a market consolidation with cross-functional acquisitions between companies in material handling and robot automation. I am sure that the AGV concept will find its role in this environment and continue to grow, as it is the most flexible automated solution and flexibility has become a key word in the last few years. What is more, AGVs allow you to start small, think big and scale up fast. Optimize for your situation today and be free to optimize for your situation tomorrow.

Which market has the largest growth potential?

Right now, I would say the Asian market with China in the forefront. It is getting more and more difficult to recruit people, salaries are increasing, and quality issues related to manual work are a major challenge for companies expanding into international markets. All this speaks for AGVs. Having said that, I think AGVs have the potential to grow in all markets. The timing is right for automation combining low investment costs with high flexibility, and recent statistics show that the overall AGV market is expanding.

What are today’s AGV buyers looking for?

It depends on the region, but generally speaking the first customer concern is the return on investment. If you can prove a return of investment within two years, this is most often a real catalyst for the buying process. There is also a new category of buyers entering the AGV market—companies who have successfully automated production and now want to automate their logistics. They represent a big growth potential, and their automation demands in logistics will probably be similar to those in production.

How will global digitalization affect the AGV market?

There are a lot of governmental initiatives aimed at improving competitiveness through productivity gains, for example, Industry 4.0 and Made in China 2025. I think this will stimulate the demand for AGVs, and we at Kollmorgen are following the trend towards standardized interfaces when developing our automation kits.

What is your offer to the new types of driverless vehicles in the market?

We are always scanning the market to make sure we have a strong offering for all companies in the AGV sector. The market is dynamic, and what we yesterday used to call an AGV might today be defined as a mobile robot. This is a natural development of any industry. Companies need to position themselves, and creating new sub-categories is one way of doing it. Our expertise is in automation kits, and you can use our software, hardware and navigation technologies for almost all applications no matter the platform.

Will we see technology from car manufacturer’s driverless vehicles in your sector?

We have been to Silicon Valley to study the development of driverless vehicles in the automotive industry. Most manufacturers have semi-automated systems already today, such as adaptive cruise control and lane detection. Next step is driverless cars, with a driver present that can take control if needed. The extreme is the Google Self-Driving Car, with just passengers, but that project will probably take a long time to realize not least due to the legal aspect if a crash should occur. From our perspective, I think the outcome of the automotive industry will be cost-effective sensors and similar components that we can use in our automation kits.

In the future, what will you be most proud of when looking back at your job?

I hope I will remember my time as General Manager at Kollmorgen Automation as a time when we built a successful business together. As my boss often says: “You don’t build a business. You build people, and then people build the business”. Inspiring and engaging highly motivated people is what it is all about.

About the Author

Samuel Alexandersson

Samuel Alexandersson

What I enjoy most about my work is the constant challenge to be aware of the changing needs of the marketplace. Business is booming and my role of finding opportunities and then addressing them with insights is highly rewarding. As Product Marketing Manager my main work is to analyze and join the dots to successfully segment and position a strong portfolio of products for the future market. A strong source of motivation in this global environment is all the great people you meet. Not only colleagues, but stakeholders from all over the world. Studied: Industrial Management and Engineering, The Faculty of Engineering at Lund University. Samuel can be reached at samuel.alexandersson@kollmorgen.com

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