A new logistics industry study predicts that the number of warehouses using commercial robots will increase from 4,000 to 50,000 in the next seven years. That trend is the result of the users seeking more efficient e-commerce fulfillment platforms to support same-day delivery.
London-based market research firm ABI Research study says that by 2025, over 4 million commercial robots will be working in approximately 50,000 warehouses. In 2018, there was just under 4,000 robotics warehouses. However, the report did not come out with an estimated number of how many robots are installed in those warehouses today.
ROI and affordability advantages of using robots
The trend predicted by this report will be driven, not only by the need for more flexible, efficient e-commerce production but also by the return on investment (ROI) and the increasing affordability on infrastructure-light robots in comparison to traditional, fixed, mechanical automation or manual operations.
Senior analyst at ABI Research, Nick Finill highlighted the significance of flexibility and efficiency in the logistics industry. “Flexibility and efficiency have become primary differentiators in the e-commerce fulfillment market as retailers and third-party logistics struggle to cope with volatile product demand, seasonal peaks, and rising consumer delivery expectations”.
Furthermore, in the report, Finill explained how robots improve the working process in the warehouse. “Robots enable warehouses to scale operations up or down as required while offering major efficiency gains and mitigating inherent challenges associated with labor and staffing.”
Technology advances enable robots to perform harder tasks
The company’s report said that robots are becoming increasingly adept at performing traditionally harder-to-automate tasks while becoming more affordable. All of this is happening thanks to technology advances in computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning and robotic mechanics.Finill explained that vendors are disrupting the wider logistics value chain by lowering the barriers in order to adopt robots in warehouses. He added that mid-size e-retailers will be able to fight back against the bigger players in the industry and bring fulfillment operations back in-house once advanced automation becomes possible for them.