Effects of Essential Supply Chain Automation
Published by : Industrial Automation
It is clear to everyone in the supply chain industry that piece-picking technology is an essential core solution that enables predictable and scalable order fulfillment operations, especially during times similar to these.
In the past three months, there has been an increase in the utilization of piece-picking technology, especially among customers who are experiencing increased demand for their direct-to-consumer business. It is clear to everyone in the supply chain industry that piece-picking technology is an essential core solution that enables predictable and scalable order fulfillment operations, especially during times like these.
To that end, customers using the systems have provided us with supporting letters defining the robots as "essential" to their business during the current crisis. This is why consumers strongly believe that investment in robotic automation is likely to accelerate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are also reminded that it has only been a few short years since it first introduced robotic piece-picking to the world. Millions of picks later, the journey is not complete, but it is gratifying to go from launch to "essential" in such a short period and to be able to help in some small way during these difficult times.
Since this current situation began, there have made some general observations about its impact on the supply chain industry and what it could mean for robotic automation:
• There has been a dramatic increase in online shopping, especially for essential items such as groceries, which has driven the demand for robust fulfillment
• Most e-commerce sites are gearing up to handle higher traffic; any retailers who haven't yet emphasized online shopping options now recognize the need to do so
• Supply chain managers will be looking for ways to address residual demand to be better positioned in the future
• Historic e-commerce growth rates of ~15% per year will undoubtedly pick up
It is true that some companies may hesitate to spend capital on automation. But as observed, that would be a mistake because the demand for fulfillment will increase. Companies that can't keep up with the market will end up with disappointed and dissatisfied customers. Those that master the new realities will thrive.
Because of this demand, along with what is expected to be prolonged social distancing guidelines, robotics-as-a-service models will be accelerated to align with market requirements.
There have been working to develop a robotic piece-picking-as-a-service (PPAAS) solution and make it readily available for the customers. PPAAS would reduce the demand for upfront capital investment, and therefore help companies more efficiently automate. In this way, they can flourish in the challenging conditions of today's growing market.
Customers are making decisions as to how and when to start investing in new piece-picking processes, given the evolving nature of the pandemic and its effects on businesses and consumer behavior. Consumers believe that now is the time for companies to take a closer look at robotic piece-picking or, at the very least, to start thinking about and planning for it.