CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: Sales of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) were stronger in 2011 than they have been in many years.
The Automated Guided Vehicles Systems Industry Group (AGVS) of the Materials Handling Industry of America (MHIA) reports AVG suppliers and manufacturers saw dollar sales of US$108 million. That figure includes 925 vehicles and 130 systems sold.
For perspective, the AGVS notes that’s a 25 percent increase in sales and a 70 percent increase in numbers of vehicles sold compared to the 2007 figures. It uses that year as a benchmark as it was the last before the recession hit.
The AGVS chair, Sarah Carlson, says when you combine the data from the past two years, the numbers paint a particularly good picture.
“The combined numbers for 2010 and 2011 are especially strong. Total sales exceeded $200 million for the two years combined. Just as notable were installation of almost 1,700 vehicles and 240 systems in 2010 and 2011 combined. The economy is improving and more companies are looking to add automation to improve productivity and lower operating costs.”
The figures indicate that manufacturing accounted for 75 percent of all the systems with distribution centres being responsible for the remaining 25 percent, even though those percentages are likely to change in the future.
“There is a shift underway as AGVS expand increasingly into distribution centres. In fact, the number of distribution centre applications increased 50 percent since last year and seven times compared to 2007. The flexibility and scalability of AGVs make them an attractive choice for warehouses and distribution centres,” says AGVS vice-chair, Randy Winger.
Of those manufacturers, the majority were transportation and food producers, although beverage/tobacco manufacturing moved into the third spot for industries with the greatest demand for the technology.
Navigation is fairly evenly split between laser guidance and all other guidance systems combined. “There were no installations of wire guided vehicles in 2010 or 2011 which is due to an increased use of new guidance options such as laser, magnetic tape and optical,” says Carlson.
In addition to their positions at the AGVS, Carlson and Winger both hold executive posts at AGV manufacturers. Carlson is with Jervis B Webb Co and Winger is with Dematic Corp.