The automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) and systems industry posted record sales of $140 million in 2013—a 39% increase over 2012, according to a study conducted by MHI, Charlotte, N.C. That figure includes 1,047 vehicles (up 47% over 2012) and 182 systems (up 42% over 2012) sold in 2013.

“This was a record year for the AGVS industry,” says Sarah Carlson, marketing director for Daifuku Webb, Farmington Hills, Mich., and spokesperson of the Automated Guided Vehicle Systems (AGVS) Industry Group, which is part of MHI. “In 2013, we saw a shift to more new systems in manufacturing and fewer vehicles per system. The economy is improving and more companies are looking to add automation to increase productivity and lower operating costs.”

Manufacturing operations continue to be the primary end use of AGVS.

“Manufacturing accounted for 156 of the systems or 85% of all systems. That’s a 10% point increase from just two years earlier,” adds Carlson.

Systems are somewhat smaller than just two years earlier, on average. For example, the average number of vehicles in a system in 2013 was 5.7, which is slightly more than 2012 and down from seven in 2011. In comparing 2012-2013 numbers to 2010-2011, 2012-2013 saw $242 million in sales totaling 1,750 vehicles and 310 systems, whereas 2010-2011 saw sales of $200 million totaling 1,700 vehicles and 240 systems. That represents a 21% increase in sales, 3% increase in vehicles and 29% increase in systems.

"It is clear that based on these numbers that manufacturers of automation solutions, namely AGVs, are seeing a substantial interest in this technology and the many benefits companies can achieve through its use,” says Gary Forger, managing executive and managing director of professional development for MHI's AGVS Industry Group. "I believe this can be attributed not only to an increasing acceptance of this technology, but also because of its proven efficiency and cost effectiveness.”


To learn more about new AGVs and other automated material handling solutions, check out Refrigerated & Frozen Foods' May 2014 issue.