ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 42
Autonomous Vehicles Won't Just Change
Our Roads, They'll Change Our Factories
By Bobby Bono, Carolyn Lee and Todd Benigni, in partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers
utomating the movement of materials within
manufacturing operations is nothing new. Indeed,
automated guided vehicles (AGVs), conveyors, sorters and shuttles have been moving and handling materials,
parts and product for decades. But now, thanks to advancements in sensor technology, 3D camera systems, software
and artificial intelligence, these machines are increasingly
capable of seeing their environments and, more importantly, learning to identify what they're seeing. More and more,
factories are becoming home to "free-range" robots capable
of working beside humans wherever they're needed.
Increasingly, semi-autonomous and even autonomous
vehicles within manufacturing operations are gaining
independence. Materials-handling robots, in particular, are
making aggressive moves, most notably in warehouses and
inventory management. Amazon, which has ramped up its
warehouse automation, is a prime example. Just consider
that since 2014, Amazon has hired 50,000 new human
workers at its warehouse facilities - while also adding
30,000 robots to work with them.
Adoption of semi- and fully autonomous vehicles by manufacturers is trending upward, but still has a long way to go.
According to Industrial Mobility: How Autonomous Vehicles
Can Change Manufacturing, a new study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and The Manufacturing Institute, only
9 percent of manufacturers use semi-autonomous or autonomous vehicles within their operations today. Yet an additional
11 percent plan to do so in the next three years.
While a 20 percent adoption rate in three years may seem
trifling, it nevertheless would appear to put autonomous vehicles on a path toward the technological mainstream (considered
by some to be attained at 30 percent adoption). Interestingly,
of those companies adopting semi-autonomous vehicles within their operations, about 4 in 5 have yet to experience cost
savings in materials handling as a result of doing so, and the
remainder saw costs savings of at least 10 percent.
As growth in the automated materials handling equipment market accelerates, it may well be - contrary to some
| COMPOUNDINGS | ILMA.ORG
conventional fears - that the hiring of humans working
in the industry will also trend up. According to the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs growth in transportation
and materials handling is forecast to increase by 4.8 percent
in the 10 years through 2024 (latest available data), adding
466,000 to the 9.7 million that existed in 2014 (compared
to a total growth projection of 6.5 percent across all occupations over that period). However, these (human) jobs may
well look different than the ones existing today, as robot
populations grow on warehouse and factory floors.
That underscores how important it will be for manufacturers to ensure spending on autonomous machines is matched
by investments in human capital. Those manufacturers adopting semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles will likely
do so over years. However, forming a talent strategy around
mobility now might be a wise pre-emptive move to best
exploit mobility adoption as it unfolds over the coming years.
With this in mind, some workforce skills new adopters will
likely need to focus on include safety skills, new work-flow
management, software programming, and specialized training
from vehicle vendors. Indeed, getting a workforce more
well-prepared to work among more independent vehicles will
take time. Why not start sooner than later?
Bono is a partner, U.S. Diversified Manufacturing leader at PwC; Lee is
executive director at The Manufacturing Institute; and Benigni is
principal, Operations Consulting at PwC. This article originally appeared
on NAM's ShopfloorBlog.com.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ILMA Compoundings March 2018
LETTER FROM THE CEO
WHAT’S COMING UP
In the Know
IS A JOINT VENTURE THE ANSWER?
WHERE’S YOUR INVENTORY?
SPEAKING YOUR LANGUAGE
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - Cover1
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - Cover2
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 1
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 2
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - LETTER FROM THE CEO
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - INSIDE ILMA
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 5
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 6
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 7
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 8
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 9
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - WHAT’S COMING UP
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 11
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - INDUSTRY RUNDOWN
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - In the Know
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - International Insight
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 15
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 16
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 17
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - Market Report
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 19
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - IS A JOINT VENTURE THE ANSWER?
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 21
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 22
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 23
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - WHERE’S YOUR INVENTORY?
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 25
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 26
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 27
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 28
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 29
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - SPEAKING YOUR LANGUAGE
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 31
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 32
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 33
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - BUSINESS HUB
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 35
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - COUNSEL COMPOUND
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 37
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 38
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - Member Connections
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 41
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - Cross Connections
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - 43
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - PORTRAIT
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - Cover3
ILMA Compoundings March 2018 - Cover4