The rise of robots is expected to boom in the next five years especially in the industrial market where more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses by 2025, according to ABI Research.
This is a huge increase from the number of robots installed in warehouses in 2018, which was under 4,000 robots. The rapid increase in the adoption of robots in warehouses is due to the need for flexible, efficient and automated e-commerce fulfillment as same-day delivery becomes preferred in last-mile logistics.
The rise in industrial robots will also be spurred by increasing affordability and the return on investment (ROI) of robots as an alternative to traditional fixed mechanical automation or manual operations.
“Flexibility and efficiency have become primary differentiators in the e-commerce fulfillment market as retailers and Third-Party Logistics (3PLs) struggle to cope with volatile product demand, seasonal peaks, and rising consumer delivery expectations,” said Nick Finill, senior analyst at ABI Research. “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.”
Robots replace heavier mechanized automation that typically requires massive upfront investment and rigid physical infrastructure. Robots save space, offer flexibility advantages and easy and relatively rapid reconfiguration of entire workflows and operations if product lines or requirements change, ABI Research said.
Artificial intelligence, computer vision, deep learning and robotic mechanics are allowing these warehouse robots to perform harder-to-automate tasks. A combination of mobile robots, picking robots and even autonomous forklifts mean that fulfillment centers are going to be able to achieve greater levels of automation in an efficient and less costly way.
ABI Research also expects robotics-as-a-service models to emerge in order to cut capital expenditure costs and allow for flexible pricing options.
To learn more about ABI's industrial robotics research, see its Intelligent Supply Chain service.