The global warehouse automation market has seen steady growth the past 10 years, but recent global events have catapulted the industry into a mode of hyper-growth. With so many new opportunities on the horizon, there are areas you need to take into consideration in the coming year. To help warehouse automation technology vendors like you prepare better to support increased growth, we've compiled a list of key trends the industry is likely to face in 2022:
- Labor shortages leading to big growth opportunities in the warehouse automation market
- Supply chain issues regulating growth
- More robots and a greater mix of warehouse automation technologies
- Doing more in smaller spaces
- Longevity of warehouse robots
- A greater need for the Internet of Things (IoT)
- The beginning of mergers and acquisitions in the warehouse automation market
All of these warehouse automation trends have the potential to make major waves, so let’s dig in – the first two trends we foresee are continuations from previous years: labor shortages and supply chain issues.
Trend 1: Labor shortages leading to big growth opportunities in the warehouse automation market
One major factor that has contributed to warehouse automation adoption is labor shortages, and they're projected to continue in this sector for the foreseeable future. With so many job openings, distribution centers and warehouses alike are being forced look at automation options in order to fulfill orders. While making large investments in warehouse automation solutions has been a big hurdle to overcome, now more than ever, they offer greater return on investment than human workers.
This greater return puts your market in prime position to grow dramatically over the coming years. In order to achieve that growth, you must be able to properly scale your output to meet your customers’ demands. Scalability presents its own challenges, but support is available through outsourcing opportunities with companies that specialize in these highly mechanical products.
Trend 2: Supply chain issues regulating growth
We hoped this would be a trend of the past, but it is likely to continue. The good news is we do expect to see continued improvement in challenging supply chain conditions over time. With so much potential for growth in the warehouse automation sector, this one issue continues to be the primary hindrance to capitalizing on opportunities and the great equalizer for all providers.
The semiconductor and steel industries are still leading the charge with huge backlogs, but realistically getting all raw materials will continue to be an issue going forward. With global supply chains still in crisis, a way to mitigate the issue is to choose partnerships with companies that have well-established supply chain services as part of their offering. This key differentiator won't be a magic wand, but it will give companies insights to mitigate risks and the opportunity to develop strong relationships with multiple vendors that can be leveraged during the production process.
Trend 3: More robots and a greater mix of warehouse automation technologies
With the increase in opportunities, a variety of technologies have been developed to complete customer projects, including:
- Autonomous mobile robots (AMR)
- Automated guided vehicles (AGV)
- Collaborative robots or cobots
- Warehouse drones
- Conveyor systems
- And more
Each option is best suited to specific needs, but with more and more of your customers including "speed to fulfillment" requirements in their contracts, the variety of mobile robots and systems in a single facility is likely to increase. There are two options to make sure you're providing the best output for your customers:
- Creating your own complete automation solutions that includes a variety of robotics solutions
- Buying other solutions off-the-shelf and integrating them into your system
While both options have their benefits, they also present hurdles to overcome...
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