Piece Picking Robots Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (20

Posted by Statzy Market Research on April 24th, 2021

With the requirement for e-commerce and product assortment quickly growing, the demand for piece-picking solutions has grown substantially. Additionally, labor deficits in the logistics industry, including securing employees for ordinary tasks such as picking, have become a hurdle for warehouse managers.

- According to inVia Robotics, Inc., the amount of time that workers spend walking from location to location throughout the warehouse accounts for about 50% of the total pick time and represents more than 50% of all operational costs. Additionally, finding and retaining staff in today’s tight labor market is challenging, often resulting in a repetitive and expensive cycle of hiring and training temporary workers. All these determinants on a cumulative basis fuelling the market growth.

- For instance, to help the core task of picking and placing individual items, and further realize the operational benefits of robotic collaboration along the supply chain, DHL is working alongside tech specialists, such as Fetch Robotics, to explore the multiple applications of robotics in logistics, offering greater efficiencies to organizations and their staff.

- Also, DHL Supply Chain’s medical implant fulfillment operation has obtained over 2x productivity improvements per employee from its adoption of Locus Bots from Locus Robotics Corp. DHL publicly stated that these workers went from 78 picking units per hour to 150 units per hour.

- Robots at present are mainly used in retail and FMCG business – in FMCG, mostly in e-commerce. With more than 2.85 million employees in logistics, according to an analysis by the Fraunhofer Institute IIS, the number of employees rose by more than 17% during the last 10 years. This development has been significantly driven by e-commerce and often results in a scarcity of skilled workforce, boosting Piece Picking Robots' demand.

- 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. Hence increasing investment in automation drives the market.

- COVID-19 has boosted the sales of automated solutions and thus also increased its logistics requirements enormously. Though the supply chain has been disrupted due to lockdown but the industry has grown significantly. The Warehouse order pickups are considered as the most time-consuming part of the supply chain, with picking robots promising to shorten it. Mobile piece pickers thus, offer can replace the number of hours that workers spend moving around the warehouse.In June 2020, Robotic fulfilment vendor Kindred Inc. said that the clothing retailer Gap Inc. had purchased 73 of its automated piece-picking robots in an effort to meet the increasing demand for online orders and employee safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Market Trends

Collaborative Robots to Drive the Market

- Collaborative mobile robots augment humans' work to improve accuracy and by leading warehouse associates to correct pick locations and to utilize UPC scanning, further reducing human error. As, according to HMC Investment Securities, it is expected that, by 2025, the global co-bot market size will reach around USD 12.8 billion, the Piece Picking Robots Market is envisioned to get a boost.

- While the collaborative robot market is relatively new, it's poised for massive growth over the next 10 years. Collaborative robots are robots capable of safely working alongside human workers and becoming more sophisticated and useful inside and outside of factory settings. Collaborative robots are advancing in capability while simultaneously becoming cheaper and more widely available. These two determinants are vital contributors to the explosive market growth ahead.

- With collaborative piece-picking robots, there is an opportunity to introduce automation into the current pick environment, not disrupt or rearrange the setup, and witness significant productivity gains.

- DHL has beenone of the early adopters of collaborative robots in its warehouse. In 2018, DHL Supply Chain announced a plan to invest USD 300 million inro emerging technologies in its North American operations. They rolled out an accelerated digitalization program that identified 14 target technologies – seven of which involve collaborative robotics – that can be fast-tracked into customers' operations.

- There are quite a few applications where collaborative robots are being deployed: packing, quality testing, material handling, machine tending, assembly, welding, and others. Among these, the material handling segment is expected to experience the most significant growth in collaborative robot installments.

- According to the Robotic Industries Association, one of the main factors contributing to the increasing adoption of collaborative robots is their constantly lowering price tag. With many collaborative robots available for under USD 45K, they are becoming viable outside the factory setting. No matter the setting, though, the low price tag makes automation investment more accessible and more comfortable to justify.

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North America to Account for High Market Share

- The piece picking robots to combine cobots and mobile robots in warehouses and e-commerce fulfillment facilities has benefitted the North American region. Most of the USA robots are imported from Japan and Europe (source: IFR, Sept 2020). Although the presence of numerous important robot system integrators.

- The 3PL companies in the region are increasingly looking at different customer profiles to understand the best applications from their perspectives. Also, multiple trends, such as making investments, encouraging hackathons, trend communities, and startup labs, are being observed. For instance, in 2018, DHL Supply Chain announced a multi-year plan to invest USD 300 million in emerging technologies toward North American operations.

Likewise, at the same time, intending to develop a productive, efficient, and fully flexible automated warehousing environment, global logistics provider DB Schenker in the United States announced a collaboration with IAM Robotics.

- Further, labor shortages and the need for quick turnaround, high expectations from DCs are expected. As warehouses have a high injury rate, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the rate of recordable illness and injury cases in the warehousing and storage sector was 5.1 out of every 100 workers back in 2017.

- It is also believed the allied industry needed further automation even before COVID-19 casts the issue of labor tenuousness. Most recent data on the average hourly earnings of laborers in the warehouse and storage sector recorded are USD 21.07, as of September 2020 by CES (National). This figure represents a 0.7% decrease from August 2020 rates.

- Specifically, in the agriculture sector, where farmers have spent over USD 34 billion a year on labor in the United States (according to the USDA), the scarcity of H2B visas and an aging worker population has led to a shift to automation. Though it is farfetched on adopting piece pick robots, active developments have been considered.

Competitive Landscape

The Piece Picking Robots Market is moderately competitive and consists of several major players. In terms of market share, few of these players currently dominate the market. These players are offering flexible, cost-effective, and efficient mobile Piece Picking Robots, which can be used for automating multiple warehouse services such as palletizing & depalletizing, storage & retrieval, transportation, and packaging. Major players are concentrating on product developments and the introduction of advanced technologies in the existing product lines to gain a competitive advantage. Prominent players in the market include Plus One Robotics Inc., Kindred Systems Inc, Universal Robots A/S, XYZ Robotics Inc., and Righthand Robotics Inc. among others.

- July 2020 - FedEx teamed up with San Antonio-based Plus One Robotics and Japanese manufacturer Yaskawa America to implement four new fully operational robotic arms in its small-package sorting system at its Memphis, Tennessee, hub.

- July 2020 - RightHand Robotics chose Intel RealSense D415 depth cameras to guide its RightPick 2 and provide vital data for segmentation and all aspects of motion planning that are needed when sorting and preparing orders. RightHand Robotics offers solutions to deal with the greater pressure that is being put on warehouses and its RightHand robot uses an Intel RealSense D415 that gives it the ability to discern objects and their locations in a bin, while avoiding collisions when pulling them out.

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