Survey Indicates Increased Adoption of Warehouse Automation

More than 70% of survey respondents have adopted or plan to adopt autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) or automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

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More than 70% of respondents to a BlueBiotics survey plan to extend fleets within the next two years, most by three or more vehicles.

“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,” says BlueBotics CEO, Dr. Nicola Tomatis.


Key takeaways:


  • More than 70% of the respondents have adopted or plan to adopt autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) or automated guided vehicles (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.
  • Respondents used AGVs to compensate for staff shortages but not to reduce headcount. Applications included moving payloads to or from conveyors, palletizers, and wrappers; packaging or other end-of-line applications; pallet toting and retrieval; and picking. About one-third cited on-site safety as a reason for adopting automated vehicles.
  • About three out of four 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. 
  • 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 3-10 vehicles. 
  • 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 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.