Hayes explained, “Flexible AGVs will play a major role in streamlining the automotive industry. By implementing flexible AGVs, the automotive industry is able to address the non-stop demand for improved productivity. These unmanned vehicles drive a decrease in labor costs, improve safety and health of workers, and improve efficiencies. The trend in the automotive industry right now is supermarket kitting. When automation is added to the supermarket kitting application, the result is a higher delivery frequency. By utilizing the flexibility of AGVs, upfront costs are reduced compared to the financial risk involved with traditional automated guided vehicles which utilize laser, tape, or wire guides to operate.”
Hayes gave examples like Daimler Trucks North America. The company needed flexibility to change routes and was faced with rising labor costs. Similarly, AISIN USA Manufacturing needed to improve cycle times and develop continuous lean process improvements.
Hayes commented that recent data suggest that flexible AGVs actually increase jobs instead of eliminating them; these jobs are typically spent in other areas of the process. “Leon from Giant Eagle was a general warehouseman and took over the project of managing and maintaining the robot fleet. He was responsible for setting up all the routes and training the robots. Leon is just one example of many who are placed into a more fulfilling role. Different roles support different processes in manufacturing and distribution centers.”
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