Tote-to-Person and multi-AMR solutions to shape and drive warehousing robotics
As more and more companies look for answers to challenges such as labour shortages, space constraints and the e-commerce boost, warehouse managers accelerate the plans they had to automate. More precisely, Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) will play a central role in this process and drive warehousing solutions tomorrow. Market intelligence firm Interact Analysis released a new white paper, The Future of Warehouse Robotics, that examines the new approaches made possible by AMR technology.
As the paper states, an AMR solution usually presents several major benefits compared to fixed automation: it is more cost-effective, its is faster to deploy, it is more flexible, and it is easier to scale.
Also, new mobile robot solutions are enabling robots to select individual totes and bring them to pickers, instead of bringing whole racks, resulting in major efficiency improvements. “T2P AMR technology is a new variant on traditional G2P (Goods-to-Person). One key advantage is that keeping the main rack stationary allows for much higher racks than would be possible if the entire rack had to be moved regularly. A T2P solution can therefore increase storage capacity.
T2P AMR market is growing fast
Data from Interact Analysis shows that the market for T2P AMR solutions is growing fast. Revenues are expected to grow from roughly 154 million USD in 2021 to about 150 billion by 2025. That year will be the first year that T2P outpaces sales of standard G2P solutions, which will be 1,3 billion that year.
According to Interact Analysis this growth will be driven by the growth of e-commerce, which in turn will stimulate the rise of automated micro-fulfilment centres. It also states that it is important to remember that growth in the e-commerce market doesn’t just impact e-commerce warehouses. It impacts warehouses down the chain too. Market data shows that many other warehouse segments are rapidly following suit.
The evolution of G2P
“The coming of age of T2P AMR does not spell the end of the line for G2P technology”, says Interact Analysis. “For many customers, current G2P solutions are more than enough. And G2P itself is evolving. In fact, G2P is continuing to drive the warehouse automation revolution, constantly improving the efficiency with which humans and robots can work together”.
According to the paper, the need for flexibility combined with a labour shortage will provide warehouses an impetus to automate any processes they can. This leading to the next step in market maturity: the automation of entire (or close to entire) warehouse operations by deploying a combined mobile robot solution, where G2P and T2P AMRs and other types of mobile robot platforms all work in unison. But this requires all robots to be working in a synchronized way.
Knitting different types together
Until today, AMRs have been deployed in isolated workflows in warehouses with no real integration across multiple processes in the same building. “This will change”, states Interact Analysis. “Combining sophisticated software management systems with the wide variety of AMR platforms now available gives the option of knitting different types together in a single solution. Not every customer will want a combined mobile robot solution, yet it is an important and growing sector. Customers tend to start by automating the low hanging fruit, only when that is implemented successfully do they look for the next automation opportunity”.
“Yet, no matter how widespread the trend becomes, multi-robot solutions will never be available entirely ‘off-the-shelf’. A degree of customisation will always be required, but modularisation will be possible, and this will cause costs and implementation time to fall significantly further over time”, according to the white paper.
As a conclusion, Interact Analysis states bluntly: “If a team of well managed mobile robots can pick and carry any item to any location in a warehouse, why would anybody ever install a fixed conveyor belt ever again?”
Interact Analysis's white paper, The Future of Warehouse Robotics, which was published on behalf of AMR company Geek+, can be downloaded here: https://source.blog.geekplus.com/company/download/the-future-warehouse-robotics