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PRODUCT/SOLUTIONS SPOTLIGHT: AGVS: The Voice of an Industry

*  By Stephen Murdoch *

The Automatic Guided Vehicle Systems (AGVS) Industry Group of MHI has been busy. Working alongside member companies, the leadership team has been meeting regularly to review and discuss the standards for the design, performance and safe operation of automatic guided vehicle systems (AGVs). The team, made up of industry stakeholders, is making every effort to be the recognized independent authority for end users and suppliers on market trends, standards and technology developments.

The marketing manager of MHI member Transbotics and chairman of AGVS, Jayesh Mehta, is proud of the member companies’ efforts to benefit the end user. “AGVS is a collection of AGV manufacturers, integrators and suppliers that came together to initially agree on which third-party safety standards the industry should adhere to, to share statistical data to get an accurate assessment of the industry’s health, and to educate the customer base on the benefits and limitations of AGVs. This benefited the end user by having a common minimum safety standard for all AGVs to have, and for it to be directed by an independent safety standard.”

The statistical data helps all the members see which vehicles and features are being bought the most and in which industries, so they can then make standard or modular AGVs, thereby, reducing costs. “The education portion, in the past, was mainly through educational seminars at MHI’s trade shows and through the AGVS microsite. More recently, we are expanding into infographics, webinars, white papers and blogs. To determine which topics to cover, we ask the members what they feel their customers wanted to know about and were most important to them. We are also sending out surveys to potential and current end users to find out from them what are the most critical factors for them when evaluating AGVs.”

The 16-year industry veteran expects AGVS to play an integral role in the growth of member companies. “I see AGVS as continuing to be the foremost thought leadership voice in the AGV market. The reason I see this is that there are plans to increase our scope for educational seminars to outside the MHI tradeshows, as well as providing more blogs, whitepapers and other outlets for information for the customer. Our focus will be a more customer-centric in the years to come,” Mehta explained.

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According to the recently released 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report, “Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Adoption,” eight out of ten survey respondents believe these supply chains will be the predominant model within just five years. However, the report found that the adoption of some of these technologies was slower than originally reported when MHI started the annual report in 2014. The report cites three top barriers to adoption of these technologies: 1. Making the business case for NextGen supply chain investments. 2. Tackling the supply chain skills gap and workforce shortage. 3. Building trust and security in digital, always-on supply chains. This issue of MHI Solutions focuses on the adoption of these digital solutions, from best practices in robotics and artificial intelligence to blockchain and innovations in last mile delivery.

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