Labor Costs Tops Seegrid Survey for Manufacturing Executives

Seegrid, the pioneer and leader in three-dimensional vision navigation, engaged an independent third party market research firm to conduct a comprehensive survey of the challenges facing senior executives from large manufacturing and distribution corporations. The findings indicate that the top challenges include labor costs, materials management, downtime, safety, and productivity.  Today, fifty percent of manufacturing expenses are tied up in materials, reinforcing the critical nature of efficient materials movement and management. This sentiment was further emphasized by Jeff Christensen, VP of Products and Services with Seegrid who stated, “$22,000 is the total cost of one minute of production downtime in the automotive industry, a frequent adopter of materials handling lean methodologies. At that rate, cost-savings are not optional, they are required.”

The survey results also indicated that another challenge facing materials handling executives is the 25% annual personnel turnover in warehousing and distribution personnel. Christensen noted, “With a lower unemployment rate and ever higher hourly compensation, the ability for these materials handling executives to retain best workers is increasingly difficult. Variable labor is particularly concerning in both manufacturing and distribution which operate on extremely thin margins.”

Adding to the labor challenges, it is estimated that ninety-six percent of a forklift’s operating cost over the vehicle’s life goes to human labor.  The survey also corroborated the issue of safety on manufacturing plant floors and increasingly large distribution centers. OSHA data reported 34,900 serious injuries annually from forklift safety incidents. Meeting regulatory compliance in training and keeping workers safe is more arduous due to the rapid turnover of personnel. The life cycle costs of human forklift operation can rarely be justified compared to automated solutions, which ensure 24/7 performance without absenteeism, safety concerns, or production downtime.

These findings were gathered April 2016 among senior materials handling professionals across a wide variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, food and beverage, consumer goods, retail, 3PL, and other manufacturing stakeholders. Respondents had facilities greater than 400,000 square feet, with multiple locations throughout North America.

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About Seegrid

Seegrid ( provides unique and revolutionary automation technology for materials handling.  Engineered with state-of-the-art Seegrid Vision, industrial trucks are transformed into the next generation of AGVs: vision guided vehicles (VGVs).  VGVs navigate without wires, lasers, magnets, or tape, and deliver unmatched flexibility. Designed for simplicity, reliability, and safety, the Seegrid flexible automation solution is offered in a line of pallet trucks and tow tractors. Seegrid’s vision guided vehicles were recently featured in the Wall Street Journal.

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An award-winning organization, Seegrid is experiencing significant growth both in employees and customers.  Multi-billion dollar organizations focused on lean manufacturing best-practices are turning to the Pittsburgh-based robotics leader. From large automotive operations to retail distribution centers, Seegrid VGVs are advancing the reality of a North American Fork Truck Free approach. VGVs improve workplace safety, reduce equipment and product damage, and deliver a rapid return on investment, dramatically reducing production downtime.

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