Lakeshore, Manufacturing, and Technology

Dematic rolls into AGV market

Along with Egemin and NDC, logistics automation company strives to help retailers get products to consumers as quickly as possible.

March 31, 2017
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Dematic will begin manufacturing automated guided vehicles in Holland. Courtesy Dematic

Dematic has announced Holland as the headquarters for its new Mobile Automation Center of Excellence.

The Mobile Automation Center of Excellence will house Dematic’s automated guided vehicle (AGV) business.

It is the result of the integration of three businesses: Dematic, Egemin and NDC.

Kion Group recently acquired Dematic (Dematic previously acquired Australian company NDC) and Egemin and tasked Dematic with integrating Egemin into its operations during the next year and bringing all AGV products into one global group.

Jeff Moss, Dematic CEO International, said it selected Holland as the Mobile Automation Center of Excellence headquarters because out of all of its global locations, Holland already had the largest concentration of AGV employees.

The Holland location, which is the current home of Egemin’s North American operations, employs 80 people.

There also will be Mobile Automation Centers of Excellence located in Egemin Automation offices in Zwijndrecht, Belgium; Breman, Germany; Heillecourt, France; and Gorinchem, Netherlands, plus the Dematic offices in Shanghai, China; and Belrose, Australia.

“We have these three companies coming together, making us the largest AGV player in the world,” Moss said.

Moss said the AGV business is on a “path for continued growth,” driven by the need for increased automation in warehouses, as e-commerce continues to grow and retailers are trying to get their products into consumers’ hands as quickly as possible.

“The evolution of e-commerce in our business has made a dramatic change in how retailers fulfill orders to their customers,” he said. “Ten years ago, the majority of those orders were fulfilled by customers going to a retail outlet to buy products, so the distribution centers sent boxes or cases of goods to the retail outlet.

“Today, with the advent of e-commerce, now you are seeing the retailers having a direct relationship with the customer, where they are actually sending the product directly to the customer’s house. That’s completely changed the landscape of distribution and has driven the need for further automation.”

Moss said Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Apple’s Steve Jobs have had a tremendous impact on warehousing.

“Visionaries like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos taught consumers how they should expect to consume goods and electronics,” Moss said. “Jobs taught us we should be able to take a phone out of the box and use the phone immediately without having to read any instruction manual.

“Our customers naturally want to see that in their environment. They want our systems and our user interfaces to be self-explanatory, so they don’t have to go through a lot of training.

“At the same time, visionaries like Jeff Bezos taught us with one click, we can order goods and have them to our door — sometimes in less than a day. Those are challenges for all of the retailers. Everyone is chasing, ‘How do I get the goods faster?’”

Moss said Dematic is working hard on those solutions.

He said in the coming years, expect to see the company continue to enhance its automation solutions and making investments in robotics.

“You’ll see Dematic combine technologies like AGVs and robots to get an ultra-flexible solution,” he said.

He also said Dematic is investing in predictive analytics, which help its customers anticipate problems in their warehouses and make decisions to avoid those problems.

Moss said the larger integration of Dematic into the Kion group, following its 2016 acquisition, has given the company an advantageous position in the marketplace.

“We have more geographic locations than anyone in the world, and we sell more AGVs than anyone in the world and we have the biggest investment in further technology,” he said.

Moss said Dematic’s goal is to be the “world leader in innovation and in market share” in the AGV business.

Furthermore, Moss said as part of the Kion Group, Dematic now has the ability to “affect everything inside the four walls of the warehouse.”

“Being a one-stop shop will have significant benefits to our customers,” he said.

As far as Holland is concerned, Moss said he couldn’t promise anything, but if the AGV business grows as expected, the community is likely to benefit.

“We expect the AGV business is going to grow aggressively, and Holland is a great place to get that talent. No promises, but if everything plays out like it has on other technologies we’ve acquired, I would think we’d be growing substantially.”

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