Although improved efficiency is still the primary justification for investing in automatic guided vehicles (AGVs), the aging workforce is adding weight to ergonomics as a purchasing criterion. This is the message conveyed in the Spring 2011 Quarterly Report of The Automatic Guided Vehicle Systems (AGVS) Industry Group of Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA).
This report asserts that today automatic guided vehicles can reduce worker strain while increasing operational efficiency
“I think of AGVs as inherently ergonomic,” says JBT Corp.’s Mark Longacre, chairman of the Material Handling Industry of America’s (MHIA) Automatic Guided Vehicle Systems (AGVS) Industry Group. In many cases, Longacre says, using an AGV to transport products removes the person from the equation.
While the report notes the ergonomic application of AGVs in manufacturing assembly operations as well as in the healthcare industry, Longacre says the use of AGVs in warehousing and distribution is a growing trend—even in picking operations. The report highlights person-to-goods and goods-to-person applications.
Another growing application for AGVs is in hospitals, where they’re used to transport fresh linens, food, and other items from central processing areas to patient floors.