The Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) market is on the rise
The trend is clear: more and more companies, large and small, are turning to solutions involving Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). The development of new vehicle types and technology break-throughs in fields like AI leads to more intelligence in AGV solutions, and is expanding the scope of what an AGV can do. The rapidly growing e-commerce sector and the paradigm shift in the automotive industry are other important driving factors.
The new AGVs
Some forty years ago, AGVs were primarily used for moving big and heavy goods in factories. The vehicles were always customized to meet very precise customer needs. One example is Tetra Pak, who started moving paper rolls with AGVs in 1976 in their plant in Lund.
Today, there are many types of AGVs. Most of them are still called AGVs, while others are referred to as carts, mobile robots and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). The diverse types of vehicles have different strengths and uses within warehouse or industry applications. The span is enormous, from systems using specialized vehicles for simpler tasks to large-scale sophisticated integrated solutions adapting and optimizing flows with precision.
The AGV industry has exploded in recent years. The yearly production in 2015 was 14,000 AGVs, steadily rising to a predicted 37,000 for 2018 with no signs of declining in the coming years. And these figures do not even include the tens of thousands of mobile robots produced by Amazon Robotics exclusively for Amazon warehouse tasks.
The e-commerce sector, including the giants Amazon and its Chinese counterpart Ali Baba, has more than doubled in three years, with new companies popping up almost daily. The Chinese market in particular is growing rapidly, driven by better wages and higher living standards. This sets higher demands on logistics which is good news not least for the AGV market, with Chinese state incentives favoring automated solutions.
Flexible automated solutions is a way to handle a changing world. Consumer behavior is evolving, raising the demand for flexibility in logistics. AGV solutions fulfill many demands and have a natural place in this new world.
AGVs are also finding their way back to the automotive industry, with heavy investments in mobile robots. An increasing number of auto companies are developing so called “smart factories”, viewing the flow of materials and parts as pieces of a greater whole rather than several separate streams. Other industries are set to follow.
The boom in the AGV sector is, of course, exciting news for any material handling industry and warehouse. What is the expected growth of AGVs in your business sector? Which solution would suit you best? Feel free to contact Samuel Alexandersson and sign up for this newsletter to get the latest global AGV market trends right into your inbox.
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