The logistics automation market was valued at USD 52.19 billion in 2020 and is expected to be USD 104.23 billion in 2026, registering a CAGR of 12.42% during the forecast period (2021 - 2026). The emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the advent of a network of connected systems are helping industries perform a multitude of tasks, such as material batching, picking, ordering, packaging, warehouse security, and inspection. This factor helps improve operational efficiency by huge margins, which, in turn, drives the market.
- The growth in the e-commerce industry worldwide and the growing need for efficient warehousing and inventory management drive market growth. According to a Salesforce report, more than 500 million consumers across the world shopped using e-commerce in the first quarter of 2018. Of the overall orders through e-commerce, mobile shopping accounted for 43% of orders, accounting for 23% of the revenue from e-commerce.
- Automation in warehousing offers extreme convenience when it comes to cutting down the overall business costs and reducing errors in product deliveries. According to DHL, a prominent 3PL company and a significant end-user of warehouse automation solutions, despite the advantages, 80% of warehouses are â€œstill manually operated with no supporting automation.â€ Furthermore, warehouses that use conveyors, sorters, and pick and place solutions, among other equipment (not necessarily automated), account for 15% of the total warehouses. In contrast, only 5% of the current warehouses are automated.
- Also, according to the Bank of America, by 2025, 45% of all manufacturing will be performed by robotic technology. Following this trend, large firms, such as Raymond Limited (an Indian textile major) and Foxconn Technology (a China-based supplier for large technology manufacturers, like Samsung) have replaced (or plan to replace) 10,000 and 60,000 workers, respectively, by incorporating automated technology into their factories. These factors have had a direct impact on the increasing adoption of warehouse robotics. The rising number of warehouses and increasing investments in warehouse automation, coupled with the global rise in labor costs and availability of scalable technological solutions, have been driving the market for warehouse robots across the world.
- Further, the emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the advent of a network of connected systems are helping industries perform a multitude of tasks, such as material batching, picking, ordering, packaging, warehouse security and inspection, and helping improve the operational efficiency by huge margins. The use of IoT technologies allows warehouses for real-time data transfer, flexible communication, and Big Data analytics. These, along with the cloud-based solution, enable automated, sophisticated, and agent-based control.
- Additionally, amidst the COVID-19 situation, the warehouse and e-commerce market has been experiencing a crippling effect on the business operations owing to the major challenges posed by disruptions in the supply chain management and lack of workers. However, leveraging the automated systems, companies are expecting to revamp their operations. This instance is expected to drive the growth of the market going forward.
Key Market Trends
Warehouse Management to Occupy Major Share
- Warehouse operations contribute to a majority of resource consumption. As various companies demand new solutions to improve warehouses' efficiency and reduce cost, the deployment of warehouse robots is set to increase. For instance, Alibaba, the world's largest retailer, has upgraded to robotic labor in one of its warehouses. This has resulted in drastically reducing the labor workforce by 70% by creating an opportunity for a highly-skilled workforce.
- Mobile robots are witnessing high growth in small and medium warehouses with smaller pallet sizes. In contrast, the industrial applications in large warehouses dedicated to food and beverage demand articulated and palletizing robots. According to a survey from the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, 94% of food packaging operations are using robotics already. Half of them reported the plan to increase their level of automation in the next three to five years.
- The growth in overall automation levels allows processing and packaging plants to introduce new products on the same assembly lines. Moreover, one out of five packaging and processing plants already deal with more than 100 product types, with a majority expecting this number to increase in the next few years. These goals have further resulted in the warehouses equaling the developments in manufacturing segments and making logistics seamless. It results in removing or mitigating any risk that can lead to creating a bottleneck situation.
Europe to Witness Significant Market Growth
- The industrial automation in Europe has been witnessing a growth in the rate of adoption since the last decade, with companies and industries spending heavily on new technologies. Europe is currently leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution (dubbed as 4IR), with various industry verticals investing in automation, IoT, and machine learning systems to optimize performance. The growth in the rate of adoption of warehouse automation in this region is mainly fueled by the rapid growth of e-commerce and retail investments.
- There has been an increasing trend in the number of warehouses across various regions. According to P3 Logistic Parks, a European manager, and developer of logistics properties, regions like Poland showed higher growth of warehousing stock. Poland added 17% of its capacity last year alone (2018). Companies like P3 and Logicor also pushed their expansions at an incredible rate. Furthermore, investments from Asia and the United States were evident, prompting the region's potential market.
- The manufacturing sector is expected to account for a significant market share and be one of the key contributors in the region, with the industry's investments growing massively. While the United States remains a significant market, companies are focusing on the European market to gain an edge in the global market, thus investing heavily to develop the technology.
The logistics automation market is highly fragmented, owing to the presence of a large number of players. The degree of competition is high, considering the number of companies that are competing. Acquisitions, as well as the collaboration of large companies with startups, are expected, bring innovation. Merging technology domains' boundaries are expected to witness the evolution of the partnership between different tech enablers in the automation industry. Some of the major players in the market are Honeywell Intelligrated and Knapp AG. Some of the key recent developments in the market are:
- September 2020 - Dematic announced plans to automate the central storage facility for RS Components GmbH in Bad Hersfeld, Germany. Dematic will install a 10-aisle Dematic Multishuttle system with 300,000 container storage positions for the electronics distributor. There will be 300 shuttles to automatically access the containers and transport them directly to the goods-to-person (GTP) commissioning station, to dispatch or to inventory storage, where they are repacked in order to prepare them for dispatch. The goal for RS Components is to increase its picking capacity to up to 38,000 order lines per day through automation. The plan is for the highly modern logistics center to become operational in the second quarter of 2021.
- September 2020 - KUKA AG launched the KR SCARA horizontal jointed-arm robots from KUKA are ultra-compact and, at the same time, deliver maximum cost-effectiveness. The robot has a reach of 500 or 700 millimeters, an extremely short cycle time of just 0.36 or 0.38 seconds, and the KR SCARA robots are ideal for pushing ahead with automation in cost-sensitive markets.
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