As the labor shortage grows and the adoption of automation grows along with it, so does the need for information about these tools. With that in mind, the MHI has an industry group dedicated to educating and informing users about mobile automation. The Mobile Automation Group (MAG) is made up of suppliers of a variety of mobile robots, most of which fall under the delineation of automated guided vehicle systems (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). The group’s mission is to “promote the market awareness, growth and effective use of driverless industrial vehicle systems.”
The use of automated vehicles is skyrocketing—where they used to be a low priority item within a distribution center, automated vehicles are now in high demand, and suppliers are struggling to keep up. In fact, a recent MAG survey of manufacturers and distribution centers revealed that as much as 74 percent of respondents are considering adding an automated vehicle in the near future. A combination of the labor shortage and consumer demand for items makes them an invaluable piece of operations.
Additionally, the vehicles and their auxiliary equipment—sensors and other technology—are growing in sophistication and capabilities along with demand. Today’s sensors are more capable and adaptable than their predecessors, delivering a fast ROI to end-users. Customers who, in the past, might have hesitated to buy automated vehicles are now embracing it.
For a better understanding of AGVs and AMRs, the main difference is that AGVs follow a pre-defined path within a facility and that AMRs can select a path. There are many variations and gray areas between those two broad definitions. In fact, it’s probably more common that these vehicles are a combination of both. For instance, some automated vehicles follow a pre-defined path for a period and then split off into a separate, independent direction. The good news is that there’s a vehicle for just about all applications.
The MAG group provides online educational seminars to help users understand where AGVS and AMRs can fit into their operations and improve efficiencies. Additionally, the group has a full library of resources for end-users, covering basic facts on up to more sophisticated topics, such as operational performance data.
Equipment like automated vehicles is held to ANSI standards. The MAG group has been active in developing the safety standard that applies to automated vehicles’ design, operation, and maintenance.
MAG members meet regularly to develop educational and training materials, exchange market statistics, produce industry data available to the public, and communicate the vehicles’ benefits at seminars, forums, and trade shows. The MAG group can serve as a valuable repository of knowledge related to the vehicles for members and end customers.
The automated vehicle industry will only continue to grow and expand, making the purpose of MAG that much more valuable going forward.
To find out more about the MAG group or to get more information about Mobile Automation, please visit https://www.mhi.org/mag