The Europe Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) market is expected to register a CAGR of 18.9% during the forecast period. The retail industry's growth is primarily driven by the increasing demand from e-commerce, primarily for automated warehouse solutions. Furthermore, the concentration of the market is expected to be focused in Western Europe; a majority of the turnover from the B2C platform is from the region (66%). Owing to such developments, vendors in the market are increasingly adopting automation.
- In July 2022, DHL eCommerce Solutions announced to invest EUR 560 million in DHL Parcel UK, its UK e-commerce operation. The investment follows a 40% increase in volume since the beginning of 2020 and increased demand for its e-commerce and B2B services. The expansion project intends to provide the necessary infrastructure to support development while positioning the company at the forefront of sustainable and digital logistics. Such developments in the region are driving the demand for AGVs.
- Industries, such as manufacturing, and food and beverage, are replacing human jobs with robots. However, unlike these industries, automation in the e-commerce sector creates better job opportunities. This is majorly due to the high usage of collaborative robots, such as AGVs, in the e-commerce fulfillment centers and the third-party warehousing sector.
- Moreover, the automotive industry is increasingly adopting automation and AGVs on its production floors. For instance, the SEAT plant in Martorell, Spain, is moving toward a digitalized smart factory, and the manufacturer adopted AGVs with SLAM navigation, 4 G connection, and induction battery charging. To date, the facility took eight AGVs for outdoor operation and had over 200 AGVs that deliver parts inside the assembly workshops at the Martorell and Barcelona factories. For instance, automotive supplier Brose invested EUR 2 million in AGVs, and the company provides seats and window regulators for auto manufacturers, such as Nissan, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Toyota.
- Further, the pharmaceutical industry is another prominent adopter of automation in its manufacturing space, as it is one of the highly regulated industries in the European region. For instance, Hoffmann-La Roche AG, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, implemented Industry 4.0 for the storage and picking of medications in its cold storage logistics facility at Roche's Kaiseraugst location. The storage warehouse has 8,100 pallet locations, and the facility adopted Swisslog's automation solutions. Over the coming years, vendors are expected to invest significantly in R&D related to charging and battery technologies while improving communication modules. With the advent of 5G, the operation of AGVs is expected to enhance, along with the adoption of high-speed communication modules.
- The demand for AGVs is primarily driven by the automotive, metal, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries in the region. With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for automation is expected to increase over the long run, primarily to cope with the shortage of labor and increasing costs. The pharmaceutical industry, which has been deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic by governments across the region, has been driving demand for market growth.
- Businesses that use AGVs to automate their manufacturing processes or supply chains must spend heavily. This covers the cost of purchasing, installing, and modifying the workplace to make it more AGV-friendly. Furthermore, the hefty cost of high-end AGVs may discourage manufacturers from employing them. Because small businesses cannot afford automated systems, they must rely on traditional/manual forklift trucks, which may hinder AGV adoption among smaller firms.
Key Market Trends
Food and Beverages is Expected to Witness Significant Growth
- The food and beverage industries are significantly adopting AGVs, as these spaces are highly regulated for maintaining hygiene and safety. Europe is home to one of the world's most abundant food and beverage industries. With over 286,000 food and beverage companies operating in the region, Food and beverage are among the fastest-growing end-use industries in Europe.
- According to Eurostat, almost 14.6% of household expenditure is spent on Food and beverages and is expected to increase further over the forecast period. As the domestic demand is on the downside and most of the food business owners are small families in the country, such opportunities are expected to increase production in the region and thus the scope of automation.
- Moreover, the growing regional food and beverage e-commerce industry is another driving factor. E-commerce growth directly leads to warehouse automation for optimizing operations, positively influencing the market. The warehouses deploy AGVs to carry out warehouse logistics and procedures, which can lift heavy weights and have been reported to save the time taken to complete the logistical processes threefold. The growing penetration of online shopping in the region is another contributing factor.
- Further, another factor pushing the market for AGV is its ability to provide alert capabilities that notify the user about a product kept in the inventory for too long and possibly reaching its expiration date. The notification function is enabled by the inventory management software available with the AGV, allowing the companies to achieve cost-effective operations by reducing wastage.
- In addition, the large-scale growth and expansion of the third-party logistics companies in the food and beverage industry are also expected to drive the market for AGV due to their heavy use by these organizations, to achieve process optimization and cost-effective operations.
- Food and beverage are one of the largest industries in the world, with about 80% of the total investment in equipment and machinery every year. Additionally, the consumption of flavored drinks, juices, and energy drinks are also on the surge, owing to diverse lifestyles and evolving consumer habits. For instance, according to Office for National Statistics (UK) 2021, consumer spending on Food and non-alcoholic drinks in the UK reached 118 billion British pounds in 2020 and 117 billion British pounds in 2021. So consumers' spending on Food and beverages increases the demand for AGVs in this region.
United Kingdom Accounts for the Largest Market Share
- Throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, political, economic, and technological developments affect the manufacturing industry's growth proportionally. Although the BREXIT vote sent shockwaves across all sectors, the manufacturing industry remained positive. Also, the predicted labor shortage is strengthening the case for logistics automation as firms seek to make their operations less labor-intensive. High demand and opportunities for the market's growth invoked optimism among the automated logistics suppliers.
- With rising labor costs and supply chain pressure for better accuracy, speed, and responsive operations in the country, automated sortation systems are gaining prominence in supply chains for delivering productivity, throughput capacity, efficiency, and accountability for businesses' cost-effective and efficient flow of goods to consumers. Manufacturers of many fast-moving consumer goods use sortation systems to handle cantonized products. Also, the United Kingdom is widely recognized for sophisticated construction work, with less floor space for construction activities. Thus, particular purpose automated guided vehicles are gaining popularity in construction.
- Moreover, AGVs achieved significant success in hospitals, with NHS installing AGV solutions throughout hospitals in the United Kingdom. AGVs in hospitals carry all the payloads that move repetitively between departments, such as food, linen, stores, waste, pharmacy, and sterile supplies. Reliable and timely delivery of various shipments helps hospitals run more efficiently and better target other resources. The demand for AGVs is primarily driven by the country's automotive, metal, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries. With the recent coronavirus outbreak, the need for automation is expected to increase over the long run, primarily to cope with the shortage of labor and rising costs.
- In the country, the current AGV technologies run on magnetic tapes and account for a significant market share. Companies, such as IMA, are focusing on offering AGVs that operate on advanced technology. During the forecast period, vendors in the country are expected to adopt new scanning and communication technologies as a part of their AGV modules and set up facilities. For instance, SICK UK launched a safety-certified outdoor laser scanner mounted on AGVs to operate in indoor and outdoor spaces. Such regional examples are expected to increase over the coming years significantly.
The European automated guided vehicle (AGV) market is fragmented, with several significant providers based on region. The market's leading suppliers have a more extensive product range that caters to the diverse needs of its consumers. On the other hand, other suppliers engage in specialized markets, offering modifications and customer-specific orders. Amerden Inc., Swisslog Holding AG, Schaefer Systems International Pvt Ltd, KUKA AG, Jungheinrich AG, and others are key participants. Some recent market developments are as follows:
- August 2021 - DS Smith invested in the robot workforce at the United Kingdom's largest paper mill. The company has invested in ten Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to increase sustainability and efficiency at its Kemsley Paper Mill in Kent. The all-electric Rocla vehicles, supplied by AGV pioneers Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy, operate 24/7 and perform a variety of tasks around the fully automated warehouse, including collecting reels from the production conveyor, storing them, and picking them for orders.
- May 2021 - Audi, at its manufacturing plant at Neckarsulm, Germany, implemented the Automated material transport solutions. With an aim to minimize unplanned stops and increase safety by the AGV, Audi in Neckarsulm opted to work with the item to create an exceptionally compact design that's also exceptionally strong and stable.
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