4 Signs It’s Time To Introduce AGVs To Your DC Operation

Jan 14, 2022
introducing AGVs to your distribution center

AGVs can reduce demand on your existing equipment and free up labor hours for more complex tasks while automating routine horizontal transport jobs.

The recent explosion in e-commerce demand has put enormous pressure on distribution centers to increase throughput, scale efficiencies and speed up delivery. While automation is certainly the key to achieving many of these objectives, finding the right balance between legacy systems and automation can be tricky. 

One low cost and relatively painless automation strategy is to add Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to your operation.  The vehicles can reduce demand on your existing equipment and free up labor hours for more complex tasks while automating routine horizontal transport jobs.

AGVs are a perfect entry point for automation because they are easily implemented and can start generating a positive return on investment from day one. 

So, what are some of the signs your distribution center might be ready for AGVs? 

  1. Order volume is increasing rapidly. When volume is consistently high outside of seasonal or market fluctuations, it’s a good time to think about how to reduce demand on labor and offload repetitive, low skill tasks.
  2. Order accuracy is declining. When employees are stretched to the limit, mistakes get made. Excessive error rates in your business are an easy way to cost justify automation projects. Automation can drastically improve order accuracy while increasing efficiency.
  3. You’re outgrowing your facility.If you want to continue your growth but don’t have the space to do so, automation can be transformative to your business.Automation projects can free up floor space, optimize the use of your existing equipment and dramatically improve your efficiency so that you can continue to grow and thrive.
  4. You can’t keep up with demand. When you are always behind, whether it’s due to an insufficient labor pool or just too much volume, it’s a good idea to start thinking of ways to relieve some of the pressure on your team and your equipment. AGVs are a great start.

What Factors Should You Consider Before Implementing AGVs?

When it comes time to automate, AGVs offer a compelling business case for increased productivity and rapid return on investment.  However, there are many factors to consider before making a decision to implement.  Among there are:

  • Will your facility layout physically allow AGVs? If not, how much modification do you need, and how costly will that be in terms of both actual expenses and down time?
  • What is the current cost of order errors in terms of both hard costs and customer goodwill?
  • What are your current growth constraints (labor, space, budget)? Which will be the most difficult to deal with as you grow.
  • What types of pallets are you handling?What are the average dimensions and weights?

Speak To An Automation Expert

If you think it might be time to implement and AGV project, get in touch with an automation professional at Raymond West today!