Flexible Automation: The Future of Warehousing

Anjali Choudhary

15th Nov, 2022

The Future of Warehousing

The global warehouse automation market valued at USD 18.9 Billion in 2021 is projected to grow at a CAGR of 14.8% to USD 64.6 Billion by the year 2030. Today, Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are large contributors to this burgeoning valuation. The market for AMRs alone is expected to cross the USD 5 Billion mark by 2026 with an expected CAGR of 32%. This automation revolution comes in the backdrop of an ever-increasing number of SKUs driven by growing customer demands, increased cost of real estate, and the resulting space requirements to store materials for order fulfillment.  

This transition towards automation began with conventional ‘fixed’ automation, a kind of automation that requires large infrastructural requirements. The robots comprised a wide range from carton shuttles, pallet shuttles, conveyors, and other forms of fixed automation that would run on fixed infrastructures like racks and rails. However, with the rise of multichannel order fulfillment clubbed with organized retail, and innovative trends such as Micro-fulfillment Centers (MFCs) and Nano Fulfillment Centers (NFCs) fueled by the rise of E-Commerce industry – with inherent market behaviors of fluctuating demands, peak seasons, and complex last-mile deliveries, necessitated the need for automation solutions which are scalable and can be easily installed. As a result, the world witnessed the rise of the flexible automation solutions, which broadly consists of AMRs and AGVs. Flexible solutions allow businesses to cater to fluctuating demands, enhance accuracy and safety, and make their operations future-ready. Easy to integrate with the existing infrastructure, and with little requirement for fixed infrastructure; flexible automation allows workflows and processes to be optimized and changed on the fly to achieve maximum throughput. 

Addverb has been a pioneer in delivering such flexible automation solutions. One such partner where Addverb deployed a flexible solution is Janio Asia – a leading third-party logistics (3PL) solution provider in Singapore, where a sortation solution, consisting of Addverb’s AGV Zippy 25 (Guided Sortation Robot), was designed and delivered, which allowed the facility to achieve a sortation rate of 4,300 parcels/ hr, while cutting significant cost. The solution can be scaled in the future, according to the customer’s requirements. 

Another global giant Panasonic worked with Addverb to scale and achieve accurate inventory visibility. The solution, comprising Addverb’s AGV Zippy 40 (Guided Sortation Robot) enabled Panasonic’s facility to achieve 100% accuracy in material movement, from the production area to the staging area. The throughput of the facility increased, allowing Panasonic to meet seasonal peaks and demand fluctuations with tremendous flexibility in its day-to-day operations. 

Flexible solutions enable businesses to scale and enhance accuracy and productivity while cutting down their cost, and providing businesses with a fast ROI. Such solutions are highly modular and have a high system uptime. Their applications range across every material handling process including picking, putting away, sorting, returns handling, replenishment, material movement, etc. The onset of an ultra-fast 5G network will also push the adoption of the Robots as a Service (RaaS) model in the global automation market. The warehouses of tomorrow need innovation now, and the innovation that is going to stand the test of time lies in flexible automation solutions. 

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