From cleaning the floors in our homes to grocery deliveries to assisting surgeons in the operating room, autonomous robots are transforming our everyday lives and a variety of industries. Logistics is no exception.
Autonomous robots, such as drones or self-driving vehicles, are intelligent machines that can perform tasks responsively without human control.
The global autonomous market is big business! Sized at $2.4 billion in 2021, it is expected to grow to $10.5 billion by 2028.
In the logistics industry, robots are helping companies improve the speed, safety, and accuracy of operations and reduce costs and human error. It’s not surprising that the global logistics robotics market is projected to grow from $6.17 billion in 2021 to $17.82 billion by 2028.
So exactly how is the logistics industry using entry-level robotics to streamline operations? And how are autonomous robots transforming the supply chain?
Warehouses are a crucial piece of the supply chain. When managed well, they allow businesses to reduce costs, improve efficiency, mitigate revenue loss, save money on shipping costs, and speed up delivery times.
Rather than replace humans, automated robots can work collaboratively with them to enhance operations. During the picking process, robots can collect and carry items for orders, bring shelves closer to human pickers, transport products to staging areas, and pack orders or boxes.
Robots also allow companies to reduce overtime and scale operations during peak seasons when they need additional employees. By reducing the manual labor burden, robots can reduce physical strain on employees, improve their health, keep them safe, and boost morale.
While self-driving trucks are not yet widely available, many experts predict they will become mainstream by 2024. Today’s labor market is squeezed due to a shortage of workers in a variety of industries, including trucking. This trend is not expected to abate anytime soon.
The American Trucking Association data shows that the industry could be short by over 140,000 drivers by 2026, increasing the driver shortage to over 160,000 drivers by 2030. Self-driving trucks will help companies fill that labor gap.
Because they will speed our transition to electric and hybrid vehicles, self-driving trucks also consume less fuel, which will help companies save costs and reduce emissions to reduce their carbon footprint. Lastly, because they reduce human error, autonomous trucks may reduce road accidents.
Data collection and inventory
Companies can no longer rely on manual hand counting or spreadsheets if they want to keep up with the fast-moving eCommerce sector. Fortunately, robots can be trained to scan and count inventory just as humans can. The result is a more accurate assessment of how much inventory is on-hand and when to replenish it to better meet demand, thus eliminating waste, reducing errors, and better understanding purchasing trends.
One major retailer recently deployed autonomous floor cleaners that scan warehouse inventory to provide data so they can track stock and ensure prices are accurate.
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