LONDON — A new research report from market intelligence firm Interact Analysis states that the growth potential is huge for autonomous mobile robots, specifically in order fulfillment applications.
The report noted that Amazon.com Inc.’s acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012, and its subsequent dominance of online retailing through heavy adoption of robotics and automation, has triggered two significant trends in the industry. First, it led to the emergence of dozens of robotics start-ups to fill the vacuum that Kiva left behind. Second, it has forced retailers and logistics companies to adopt automation to keep pace with the e-commerce giant.
Interact Analysis said it believes a “tipping point” is approaching for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) used to support order fulfillment. Excluding Amazon, more than 100,000 AMRs will have been deployed for order fulfillment by the end of 2020, and more than 580,000 will be installed over the next five years, said the report.
A ‘perfect storm’ for order fulfillment
Although fewer than 300 sites had deployed order fulfillment AMRs by the end of last year, Interact Analysis predicts explosive growth due to a “perfect storm” of a number of key drivers. The report also discusses the “Amazon Effect,” whereby e-commerce companies are being forced to increase speed and flexibility of their operations to keep up.
Record low unemployment rates, coupled with the ongoing shift of younger generations away from manual labor, have also created a major shortage of warehouse workers, increasing demand for automated systems. The speed with which the technology has matured and moved beyond the early adopter stage has made deployment an increasingly attractive option.
“With Amazon deploying Kiva’s goods-to-person approach for order fulfillment, it’s easy to see why others like GreyOrange, Geek+, and Quicktron have followed in its footsteps, and [they] arguably have seen greatest success so far,” said Ash Sharma, research director at Interact Analysis.
“Despite this, AMR vendors have emerged with a variety of different approaches and sub-approaches,” he added. “The question over which technology or approach will ‘win’ is not an easy one to answer. All approaches are forecast for strong growth — albeit at different paces and timeframes — and the approach preferred will depend on a number of variables.”
“While in every industry, there are always winners and losers, right now, it appears that the size of the untapped opportunity and the underlying drivers of demand are more than strong enough to support all the vendor types we see today,” Sharma said. “As a result, we expect very promising growth for the majority.”
About the mobile robots report
The mobile robot market is set for a major transformation over the next decade as AMRs get widely adopted in warehouses and logistics centers following years of pilots, said Interact Analysis. The industry is now growing rapidly as the technology hits the mainstream, driven by an acute labor shortage and e-commerce boom, coupled with increasing customer demands for faster and cheaper delivery and high return rates.
At the same time, automation and robotics continue to proliferate in manufacturing environments, amidst a backdrop of Industry 4.0 and shifts in consumer demand, leading to faster and shorter design cycles and a strong need for manufacturing flexibility.
Interact Analysis also made the following points about the methodology of its report:
- The 2018 edition of the report was the first bottom-up analysis of the mobile robot market. In this 2019 edition, two experienced research directors spent four to five months researching and analyzing the industry, using primary research to build an updated assessment of the industry.
- The report uses well-modeled forecasts to 2023 with clear and transparent assumptions for all market segments.
- It includes detailed discussions of the key issues/trends impacting the mobile robot market, based on 40+ hours of primary interviews with key industry stakeholders.
- An in-depth analysis of the supplier landscape is included to help you understand your competitors, suppliers and potential partners more accurately.
For the full report and more information, visit Interact Analysis’ site.
The Robot Report has launched the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10 in Santa Clara, Calif. The conference and expo focuses on improving the design, development and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots. Learn more about the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum.