Retailers are taking advantage of advanced and affordable commercial robotics, with e-commerce fulfilment as their primary driver. According to ABI Research, over 50,000 warehouses globally will use robots by 2025. This is a 1200% increase compared to the 4000 warehouses in 2018.
In the United States, the number of warehouses that will be robot-powered is going to increase to 23,000. This number is currently only at 2500. The main reason for this increase, according to Nick Finill (ABI’s senior analyst), is the increasing growth in e-commerce. Multiple other factors are the shortage of labour, advances in technology and lower costs.
Retailers must fulfil orders quickly as more and more companies are offering fast (same-day) delivery options. Newer generations of sophisticated robots, such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are a perfect solution in those situations.
Finill says: “Robots enable warehouses to scale operations up or down as required while offering major efficiency gains and mitigating inherent challenges associated with labour and staffing.” The smaller, new robotic systems can quickly be redeployed, stored and moved to handle seasonal peaks in orders.
Adding robotic technologies
A growing number of sellers and shipment companies are increasing their productivity by adding robotic technologies to their fulfilment infrastructures. For example, the most highly automated company Freshippo (operated by Alibaba) is able to deliver in 30 minutes to consumers who live within three kilometres. This due to their shops serving as a fulfilment centre. The other marketplace giant, Amazon, currently uses over 100,000 robots inside its warehouses. In 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems and its robotics and then renamed it to Amazon Robotics.