The Europe Automated Guided Vehicle market was valued at USD 508.7 million in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 3014.8 million by 2026 and grow at a CAGR of 31.6% over the forecast period (2021-2026). The retail industry's growth is primarily driven by the increasing demand from e-commerce, primarily for automated warehouse solutions. According to the e-commerce Europe report, the region's online -sales increased by 13% in 2019, and total sales were valued at EUR 621 billion. 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.
- For instance, ThyssenKrupp's material handling division is planning to invest over EUR 70 million in its European warehousing and logistics network. Its new logistics center is expected to be built in Rotenburg/ Wumme (Lower Saxony), with an area of 36,000 square meters, and it can store up to 20,000 metric tons of materials. Such developments in the region are driving the demand for AGVs. Apart from retail, the automotive industry is one of the significant adopters of automation. Europe is one of the prominent automotive markets that accounts for a considerable share in the global automotive production units.
- The automotive industry is increasingly adopting automation and AGVs in its production floors. For instance, the SEAT plant in Martorell, Spain, is moving toward a digitalized and 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.
- The pharmaceutical industry is another prominent adopter of automation in its manufacturing space, as it is one of the highly regulated industries in the EU region. For instance, Hoffmann-La Roche AG, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, implemented Industry 4.0 for 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 recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, which hit the region severely, is expected to influence the market's growth during 2020, as almost all production, logistics, and warehouses are under lockdown and seized activities. The operations in these industries are expected to resume and reach a previous optimal position over the next four months. Owing to the decline in the tourism industry, the need for automation for material and baggage handling declined. Airports, where extensive scale material handling is required, were increasingly adopting AGVs in addition to their automated material handling solutions. However, the demand in specific industries, such as electronics, retail, and automotive, is expected to witness the decline and recover by 2021.
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 most abundant food and beverage industries in the world. According to FoodDrink Europe, in 2019, the sector accounted for EUR 1,192 billion and was the largest manufacturing sector in the EU region. 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. According to SACE (State-controlled Export Credit Agency), Italy's food exports are expected to increase by 5% per year on average through 2019, surpassing every other sector, supported by robust expansion in countries such as China. 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.
- The growing food and beverage e-commerce industry in the region is another driving factor. E-commerce growth directly leads to warehouse automation for optimizing the operations hence positively influencing the market. The warehouses deploy AGVs to carry out warehouse logistics and procedures, which cannot only lift heavy weights but have also been reported to save the time taken to complete the logistical processes by threefold. The growing penetration of online shopping in the region is another contributing factor. According to the Office of National Statistics UK, the share of individuals who have made online purchases in Great Britain increased from 78% in 2018 to 82% in 2019.
United Kingdom is Expected to Hold Significant Share
- Throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, political, economic, and technological developments are affecting 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, primarily for handling cantonized products. Also, the United Kingdom is widely recognized for sophisticated construction work, with less floor space to operate for construction activities. Thus, particular purpose automated guided vehicles are gaining popularity in the construction sector.
- 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 payloads helps hospitals run more efficiently and assist in better targeting of other resources. The demand for AGVs is primarily driven by the country's automotive, metal, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries. With the recent outbreak of coronavirus, the need for automation is expected increase over the long run, primarily to cope with the shortage of labor and increasing costs
- In the country, the current AGV technologies are run on magnetic tapes and account for a significant share in the market. 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, which can be mounted on AGVs to operate in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Such instances in the region are expected to witness a significant increase over the coming years.
The European automated guided vehicle (AGV) market is consolidated and is home to various significant vendors depending on the location. The major vendors in the market garner a more in-depth product portfolio catering to customers' different requirements. In contrast, other vendors operate in niche segments providing customizations and customer-specific orders. Key players include SSI Schaefer Systems, Swisslog Holding AG, KUKA AG, ABB Ltd., etc. Recent developments in the market are -
- April 2020 - Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. developed a FORTELION 24V Battery Module that is ideal for industrial equipment requiring high output, such as automated guided vehicles and robots. This module is equipped with "FORTELION," a proprietary lithium-ion secondary battery, which uses olivine-type lithium iron phosphate as the cathode material and combines long life with an exceptionally high level of safety.
- October 2019 - Sauer Polymertechnik, a manufacturer of plastic packaging and hollow parts, announced that Jungheinrich AG is implementing a logistics systems at its production site located at Foritztal, Germany. The order has an automated guided vehicle system (AGV) and eleven of Jungheinrich's automated trucks ERC 213a, which will take care of material flow between production and a high-bay warehouse.
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