The global warehouse robotics market size was worth at USD 9.88 billion in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 31.3 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 15.51% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Automation in a warehouse uses control systems, technology, and software to improve the productivity of operations. It typically pertains to functions carried out in distribution centers or warehouses with little or no human involvement. Increased warehouse capacity and efficiency, more excellent dependability, improved service scalability, improved customer service and speed, organizational control, reduced errors, and higher performance are all advantages of physical automation in a warehouse. "Warehouse Robotics" refers to employing robots, automated systems, and specialized software to carry out various tasks, speed up, and automate warehouse operations. Robotics plays a crucial part in warehouse automation and has recently acquired prominence in supply chain, distribution center, and warehouse control circles. Modern warehouses are being forced to seriously explore using robotics due to technological improvements and an increasingly competitive business environment. Warehouse robots are no longer just nice-to-have extras; their capacity to boost productivity, accuracy, and operational efficiency is now essential to effective warehouse operations.
Systems for warehouse robotics are utilized in various industries, including e-commerce, automotive, pharmaceutical, metalworking, food & beverage, and others. Recently, the supply chain, distribution center, and logistics management groups have emphasized robotics, which is essential to warehouse automation. This is projected to support the growth of the warehouse robotics market. The warehouse robotics market is driven by the global expansion of e-commerce and the rising demand for effective inventory management and storage. Automation in warehousing efficiently lowers overall business expenses and minimizes product delivery faults. The industry will benefit from the expansion of warehouses, increased investments in warehouse automation, rising labor costs globally, and the accessibility of scalable technical solutions.
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Growing Proportion of SKU (Stock-Keeping Units)
As new items are consistently introduced, a growing percentage of SKUs (stock-keeping units) is highly prevalent in the industry. With an array of options and styles at the disposal of the e-commerce retailers for delivery on demand, the luxury of customization and the expanding number of customer choices through the e-commerce platform has driven the need for an enlarged inventory. According to research, more than 50% of businesses plan to strategically increase the number of inventory SKUs available over the projection period to meet the long-tail expectations of their customers. To meet this growth, automated, effective mini-load storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) use light cranes that can handle individual totes, cases, trays, and crates while maximizing storage and freeing up valuable delivery and labor resources. These systems increase supply chain efficiency by automating crucial procedures, such as the receipt of goods, optimum inventory management, and order fulfillment for outbound shipping.
Warehouses grow in size to accommodate the need for home delivery (or curbside delivery). Due to the increase in size, warehouses can handle increased volumes and an increasing number of SKUs. The most recent iteration of picking robots and AGVs offers the potential for various e-commerce niches. They appear particularly well-suited for fulfillment processes involving sizable numbers of modest orders for sizable SKU ranges dispersed throughout sizable warehouse zones. With the introduction of always-on e-commerce, the demand for quicker responses, and the requirement to manage a more significant number of SKUs with fewer errors, warehouses must scale up and meet the criteria for an intelligent, efficient, and automated warehouse. This boosts the usage of robotics in warehousing.
High Cost of Warehouse Robotics
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been sluggish to adopt robotics partly due to cost and return on investment (ROI) concerns. Setting up and installing warehouse robots requires a significant capital investment. A stationary robot typically costs around USD 60,000 and USD 140,000. In contrast, a mobile robot typically costs about USD 25,000 and 40,000. Given these high expenses, warehouse managers are less likely to select expensive warehouse robots, which hinders the expansion of the warehouse robotics business. Since automation technology is advancing so quickly, new variations in these items are being introduced. As a result, existing technologies are soon rendered obsolete and must be altered or improved frequently, resulting in significant expenses. Due to the greater implementation costs for robotics, firms are less likely to use the technology.
Growing Popularity of AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robots)
Companies that provide warehouse robots now have a lucrative opportunity because of the development of AMRs for warehouse and material management applications. Using an AMR is better than manual material transportation methods like manned forklifts. Safety sensors on these robots guard against collisions and keep them from happening. Their precision varies based on how well they execute and how their actions affect the efficiency and security of varied environments. Depending on the sensors and algorithms employed in AMRs, the location and surroundings could be estimated with greater or lesser accuracy. Additionally, AMR technical improvements open possibilities for incorporating AI in warehouse robots.
The global warehouse robotics market is classified based on type, function, end-user, and region.
Based on type, the global warehouse robotics market is segmented into Industrial Robots, Sortation Systems, Conveyors, Palletizers, Automated Storage & Retrieval Systems, and Mobile Robots.
The Mobile Robots (AGVs and srs) section is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.72% and hold the largest market share over the forecast period. Transporting items in warehouses and storage facilities with mobile automated guided vehicles (AGVs) is the principal application of warehouse robots. These robots move goods for storage and shipping along predetermined courses. AGVs are crucial for lowering logistical costs and streamlining the supply chain. AGVs are also employed for replenishing and picking during inbound and outbound handling. The level of autonomy that autonomous mobile robots (srs) possess sets them apart from AGVs.
The Automated Storage & Retrieval System (ASRS) will hold the second-largest market share. The automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) offers warehouse managers several advantages, including lower labor and energy costs, improved space utilization, and product damage prevention. The quantity of human involvement also has decreased due to the use of these technologies in warehouses. Such advantages ensure an attractive return on investment in warehouse and distribution technologies.
Based on function, the global warehouse robotics market is segmented into Storage, Packaging, Trans-shipments, and Others.
The Storage section is projected to advance at a CAGR of 15.27% and hold the largest market share over the forecast period. Warehouse automation now wouldn't be complete without effective storage solutions. Automated storage systems, such as those used in warehouses, improve an organization's efficiency by giving users better inventory management, tracking, and control. Additionally, these solutions boost workplace safety while lowering labor costs and the number of workers needed. The use of warehouse robots is anticipated to rise as manufacturing activity rises, technologies like Industry 4.0 are adopted by manufacturing facilities, and the global transportation and logistics market expands.
The Packaging section will hold the second-largest market share. As part of the order fulfillment process, picking, packaging, and processing orders take a lot of time. Packaging in warehouses is essential since it entails preparing things for shipping to customers. Many end-user businesses are searching for efficient ways to improve the packaging procedure to guarantee the items' safe delivery. Organizations can increase product production, quality, and safety by automating the packaging process. The application of warehouse robotics is growing as Industry 4.0 is being adopted more widely across all sectors of the economy.
Based on end-user, the global warehouse robotics market is segmented into Food & Beverage, Automotive, Retail, Electrical & Electronics, Pharmaceutical, and Others.
The Retail section is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.41% and hold the largest market share over the forecast period. In the case of retail, logistics accounts for a sizable amount of the product cost. Any savings can significantly increase a company's profit margin, given the sector's vast volume and low margins. However, logistics is a very complex system. It has changed from a linear to a dynamic process capable of reacting to changing supply and demand scenarios for optimal efficiency and value, increasing the demand for automated solutions. AGVs, Palletizers/Depalletizers, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems, etc., are frequently used in distribution centers and warehouses that deal with consumer-packaged supermarket products.
The Food & Beverage section will hold the second-largest market share. Power has shifted away from manufacturers and retailers due to rapidly rising packaged food demand, evolving eating patterns, and strict food packing and storage rules. The main factors driving automation in food and beverage logistics are strict procedures emphasizing zero contamination, efficient storage, and quick storage and retrieval operations. The rise of e-commerce businesses like Amazon Fresh, Peapod, Google Express, Walmart, General Mills, Costco, and Kroger is fueling the warehouse robotics market.
Preeminence of Asia-Pacific
By region, the global warehouse robotics market is categorized into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
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Asia-Pacific will command the highest market share, expanding at a CAGR of 16.23% over the forecast period. With investments in the sector soaring, the manufacturing industry is expected to hold a sizeable market share and emerge as one of the significant contributors in the region. Businesses in China that had already used these robots in their warehouses saw results during the outbreak. The Wuhan-based automated warehouses of JD.com, a major Chinese e-commerce company, use a fleet of robotic trucks to transport necessities to city dwellers who shop online but are stranded at home. Additionally, exciting prospects are anticipated for the players in the region. For instance, the 8-meter-tall flexible arm robot RoboShuttle RS8-DA was introduced in 2021 by Geek+, a Chinese robotics company specializing in logistics automation for warehouses, industries, and supply chains. Hence, the increased deployment of robots in various economic sectors boosts the industry in the region.
North America will proliferate at a CAGR of 15.92%, accounting for USD 6 billion by 2030. The expansion of e-commerce, along with technological improvements that have made robots better and smaller, lower prices, and a labor crisis in some sectors, are the primary reasons for the increasing employment of robots in North American warehouses and distribution hubs. The region is seeing a reduction in middle-skill jobs, like those in manufacturing and production, and a rise in both high- and low-skill professions, such as management positions on the one end and jobs that help or take care of others on the other. This is now referred to as "job polarization," which is why many repetitive, manual, and low-skill occupations are automated. Several merchants in North America are working with technology companies to co-develop robots that may be used in retail stores to help customers locate the things they are looking for, such as a portable kiosk for products and other information research.