BlueBotics, the global reference in natural navigation for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), has released results of a new survey indicating significant growth in automated guided vehicle (AGVs) on its educational website, ANTdriven.com. Conducted in collaboration with Logistics Business magazine, the report “AUTOMATED VEHICLES IN MATERIAL HANDLING 2022/2023 USAGE REPORT indicates a bright outlook for the future of AGVs.
Between November 28th and December 14th, 2022, the independent research firm Logistics Business interviewed 180 respondents from 29 different countries, 87% of whom were involved in purchasing automated vehicles.
Virtually all respondents used some automated vehicle to improve their operations, and most planned to expand use soon. The results also indicated increasing acceptance and trust in automated vehicle technologies, high adoption of natural navigation methods, and significant interest in interoperability.
- Widespread use of automated vehicles. More than 70% of the respondents have adopted or plan to adopt AMRs or AGVs and 21% were using self-driving forklifts. The average fleet size was 7.7, consisting mostly of AMRs or AGVs; only 17% used more than one type of vehicle.
- Diverse uses. Respondents used AGVs to compensate for staff shortages but generally not to reduce headcount. Applications included moving payloads to or from conveyors, palletisers, and wrappers; packaging or other end-of-line applications; pallet toting and retrieval; and picking. About a third cited on-site safety as a reason for adopting automated vehicles.
- Natural navigation is the most popular guidance method. About 3 out of 4 respondents were using vehicles guided by natural navigation methods, with others using laser triangulation, inductive wire, magnetic tape, and QR code or tag-based systems.
- Market growth. 91% of respondents plan to extend their AGV or AMR fleets, with 81% planning to do so within the next two years. Most will purchase between 3 and 10 vehicles.
- Interoperability trending. The need for new purchases to interoperate with each other and other plant technology showed as important as brand reputation and payload capacity, as respondents seek to avoid single vendor reliance.
- The need to measure ROI remains. But how they will measure that return remains of concern. The two most cited approaches include comparing cost savings to manual or automated vehicle technologies and productivity increases, with break-even time, accident reduction, and staff acceptance.
“This survey confirms our belief that the adoption of automated vehicles will continue strongly for many years, driven by the challenge of hiring and retaining material handling workers, the continued need for increased efficiency and cost savings in challenging global conditions. We are especially gratified to see such strong current use of natural navigation as users see the value of automating material handling operations,” said BlueBotics CEO, Dr. Nicola Tomatis.