- With robotics usage growing within the warehouse, robotics companies, along with business application vendors, may need to rethink compatibility, analytics and data management in their applications, according to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC)*.
- Robotics growth is driving some vendors to partner with robotics startups on warehouse management system (WMS) integration to ensure seamless integration of the two technologies.
- The robotics market is growing "quite rapidly," IDC said, and expects worldwide market to exceed $200 billion by 2021.
Advancing robotics along with falling costs are creating a nearly utopian environment for the technology to grow.
Places with heavy manual labor, such as warehouses and manufacturing facilities, have especially found use cases for robotics, often performing repetitive tasks alongside a human. In 2016, about 40,000 robots were operating in warehouses. In 2021, that number could grow more than fifteen-fold to 620,000, according to market intelligence firm Tractica.
Unlike some emerging technologies which are more hype than use, robotics is being adopted at a rate of 34%, and in five years MHI predicts the rate will be 73%.
Investors are seeing the value in robotics companies, especially startups developing robots to move about the warehouse or pick and pack e-commerce orders, all with the goal of increased efficiency and productivity.
Of the six companies in the chart above, four — Locus, Rethink, Soft and Fetch Robotics — were named to Robotics Business Review's Top 50 list in 2018. The remaining two were noted as companies to watch and potential "rising stars" in the industry.
The review named investor support, novel technology and an understanding of customer needs as common factors of robotics industry leaders.
With startups proliferating in the space, robotics companies can differentiate themselves by recognizing customers' desire for systems to be compatible and work together seamlessly, especially as smart technologies become more prevalent.
Locus, for example, integrated its robot solutions with JDA's WMS last month, allowing the company to deploy the system in a matter of days, the robotics company said in a news release.
Fetch Robotics partnered with SAP on its Extended Warehouse Management application. "It’s an innovative combination of hardware and software that benefits warehouse operators and their employees," Fetch Robotics CEO Melonee Wise said in a press release.
*Report title: Business Application Vendors and their Role Related to Robots. Report number: #US43174518