Riding the AGV Trend

Give your lift truck a break. A new generation of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) is taking over distribution centers nationwide. These AGVs are nothing like those that the distribution industry previously rejected as too costly, too cumbersome, too complicated, and with a painfully long return on investment (ROI). The AGVs of today are different, in a good way.

Photo courtesy: Dematic

Photo courtesy: Dematic

Robotics Tomorrow calls AGVs the “hot trend in distribution centers.” As many as eight out of 10 large distribution centers plan investments in automation over the next two years. And sales projections for AGVs are very strong for 2014, especially in distribution. These developments are even more significant if you consider that as recently as 2006, only 1% of the AGV system deployments in the United States were in a specific distribution center application. Since then, the number of applications has increased more than seven times.

So what has driven so many logistics managers to finally embrace AGVs and what do you have to gain from doing the same?

Let's consider the following:

The level of unparalleled technological innovation should cast aside any doubts about the applicability of AGVs in your distribution center. If the systems of yesterday were your rambling uncle, the expanding portfolio of flexible AGVs is your genius cousin.

Take, for example, one of the most recent products launched by Seegrid Corp. — the unmanned GWSL3 walkie stacker. Using patented vision-guided technology, it automates the horizontal transfer of goods and travels without wire, tape, magnet, or laser.

The fact that Seegrid in 2013 saw a 350% increase over the previous year in the orders of robotic industrial trucks, or flexible AGVs, says it all.

The flexibility of these robots enables them to handle almost any environment, making them ideal for evolving distribution centers. A recent survey by the Material Handling Industry cited the systems' versatility and the ensuing cost savings as key selling points. In short, they help you do more with less.

Additional benefits include an improvement in safety and accuracy as a result of advanced vision systems. AGVs also allow you to transfer workers in a labor-intensive distribution center to value-added positions to focus on tasks that these driverless vehicles still can't do. And with centers growing larger and labor costs rising, zeroing in on automation makes perfect sense.

Some say this may be the iPad-moment of the distribution industry. Are you on board?

17 comments on “Riding the AGV Trend

  1. t.alex
    March 11, 2014

    There are in fact lots of investment into robotic technology nowadays. Google, Amazon and similar companies are focusing heavily on this inevitable trend.

  2. Ashu001
    March 11, 2014


    Does this Trend not scare you?

    It sure does for me personally.

    At a time of Soaring Unemployment Globally we are seeing Capital being Super-cheap (thanks to Negative Interest rates courtesy of the Global Central Banking Cartel) which makes all Corporations want to invest in more and better Quality Robots.

    What are human Beings supposed to do if Every single thing gets automated?

    Where do we draw the Line?

    I was talking with a Couple of My friends in Finance[Currency and Stock Traders];they were telling me that they are all on the verge of Losing their jobs to Automation.

    Its the same situation in a lot of other Industries as well today.

    Frightening Situation for sure!

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    March 11, 2014

    @Tech4People, certainly in the work world today employees need to be flexible and able to learn new skills. It's a reality in every industry. Look at EBN….20 years ago, it was a paper-based publication that got mailed out once per week. Now it's a living community with videos, polls, conversations and more. The skils involved in that are hugely different. I do think that organizations that automate should help workers move into new positions and gain new skills.

  4. Ashu001
    March 12, 2014


    The Qualifier in your Phrase here is that Organizations “Should Help” Employees make the Transistions effectively.

    The Question is are they really?

    I don't think so today.

    Most Companies are just happy to Lay off Employees because they don't fit in with the New Way of Doing things.

    Sad but True State of Affairs currently.


    March 13, 2014

    One can't helpfeel that this type of automation will skyrocket soon (literally).  These automatons will pick the stock from the shelves and pass them to aerial drones to deliver to your doorstep.  Watch out everyone……big brother is watching you.

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    March 13, 2014

    @Tech4People, I have to disagree… I believe it is a mixed bag. Some companies do, some don't. I think that the awareness is on the rise.

  7. Eldredge
    March 13, 2014

    @Flyingscot – BB already is. The way technology is going, everyone will be able to watch you soon!

  8. Eldredge
    March 13, 2014

    I think it is the versatility over previous distribution center techology of the new AGVs that make them attractive.

  9. t.alex
    March 14, 2014


    this is an inevitable trend. See the latest news:

    I am scared too, but we have to re-learn everyday.

  10. Ashu001
    March 17, 2014


    Thing is if we had Sharply Declining Populations globally(especially of Working Age Groups);then your suggestions make most sense.

    Unfortunately atleast for the next two decades or so that is not the case.

    Somewhere around 2030,Global Working Age Population will peak;that's when Automation should kick in Aggressively to support the Global Economy.

    Not today.Its too early and we risk a Massive Lost Decade for most of our Labor-force Currently.

    Also as long as Capital remains so cheap(thanks to Artificially suppressed interest rates via the Federal Reserve);Labor will always look unattractive per se.

    Its not really that hard to understand why that's the case.


  11. Ashu001
    March 17, 2014

    Flying Scot,

    They are coming!

    They are coming!

    We Better be prepared for the Bots!


    Seriously its about time policy-makers figured out the right approach to tackle this serious problem which very much run the risk of overwhelming most of us today.

    Needs serious work for sure.


  12. Ashu001
    March 17, 2014


    Yes I have to agree.

    Its a frightening trend for sure and eventually we will run out space where we can innovate /re-learn to upskill ourselves.

    What do we do then?

    Even today,take a good look at most of the Latest Smartphones on the market-How many features do most of us use from them whole set?

    You think its possible to do MDM manually anymore here?

    It is'nt.

    Stuff like that should not just scare us but keep us wary of the direction in which we are moving today.

  13. t.alex
    March 21, 2014

    tech4people, probably we will have to learn to control robots 🙂

  14. Ashu001
    March 21, 2014


    I am guessing you have'nt seen Termainator or any of the Big Sci-Fi flicks like ever?


    That most certainly won't happen ;especially since Robot Computational Capacity far outstrips Humans.


  15. t.alex
    April 3, 2014

    We have to look for SkyNet or anything similar and shut them down immediately 🙂

  16. Ashu001
    April 3, 2014



    Easier Said than Done I am afraid!


  17. newAGV
    June 24, 2019 supports customized AGV solutions all over the world.

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