Advantages and Disadvantages of AGVs

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs), also known as driverless vehicles or automated forklifts, are becoming an integral part of the material handling industry. Capable of automating tasks that once relied on human personnel, AGVs are being adopted in numerous applications, including raw material storage, finished goods storage, assembly operations, and more. 

As technology continues to improve, the prevalence of automated guided vehicle systems is only growing.

 

If you own or manage a material handling business, driverless vehicles could be the key to streamlining repetitive manual tasks. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of AGVs to help you decide if they’re right for you.

Advantages of AGVs

  • Reduced labor costs: Purchasing an automated forklift is an investment that pays for itself. After all, you don’t have to offer a salary, healthcare coverage, vacation time, sick leave, or other benefits when you buy a machine instead of hiring a worker. Plus, you’ll no longer have trouble filling vacant positions caused by the current labor shortages.
  • Improved safety: AGVs are programmed for safety, with cameras, sensors, and lasers to ensure safe operation around other equipment and human personnel. The machines also aren’t subject to human error, distraction, or fatigue. They can even operate in dangerous work environments that are unsafe for humans.
  • Increased productivity: Automated forklifts don’t need lunches, coffee breaks, or nightly rest. So unlike human operators, they can run 24/7 with flawless accuracy.
  • Gradual phase-in possible: It’s easy to introduce driverless vehicles gradually, allowing you to avoid an overwhelming upfront investment. Start with one or two and slowly expand your fleet as needed.

Disadvantages of AGVs

  • Higher initial investment: While the long-term costs may be lower, an AGV’s upfront purchase price is higher than a traditional forklift. Fortunately, financing can help make the investment more affordable.
  • Training and maintenance required: Another upfront cost involves training your employees to interact with driverless vehicles safely. You’ll also need to prepare for regular maintenance and occasional repairs. This means training your maintenance staff to work on the new machines or outsourcing this to a service provider. Either way, you’ll incur costs during this transition process.
  • Less flexibility: AGVs operate according to strict preset systems and processes, making them great at completing repetitive tasks. However, it’s difficult to adapt the machines to rapidly changing conditions. This could be detrimental if you work in an industry that requires more flexibility.

Clearly, while AGVs have their benefits, they may not be suitable for every task your material handling business requires. As a result, you may need a combination of automated guided vehicles and manned forklifts.

 

Ring Power Lift Trucks can help you find the right equipment for your needs. We are proud to be a Jungheinrich® AGV systems dealer. We also rent and sell new and used forklifts throughout Florida, drawing on over 60 years of experience to ensure your satisfaction. To find out more about our automated forklift rentals, sales, parts, and services, please contact us at 877-544-5438.

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