The demand for robotics solutions is exploding as companies in a variety of sectors look for new ways to boost their productivity and competitiveness while also addressing ongoing supply chain issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized some far-reaching trends, such as labor shortages, rising costs for materials, and growing pressure from consumers. Fortunately, technology is opening new opportunities for businesses to address these challenges. Here is why now is the ideal time to pursue innovation and some of the latest trends in robotics for 2022 and beyond.
Supply Chain Challenges Still Plaguing Businesses
After nearly three years of pandemic-related disruptions, businesses are hoping for a return to normal with the supply chain. But many experts have reported that the pandemic simply uncovered an important fact about the global supply chain — that it’s irretrievably broken. While some issues have improved in 2022, current trends suggest the coming year will be just as challenging. Some of the top supply chain issues still troubling businesses include:
1. Worker Shortages
There is a persistent labor shortage that carries through many essential jobs, such as warehouse workers and truck drivers. As industries work through some of these issues, they will start to rely more on outsourcing and automation.
2. Shipping Backlogs
Another prevalent challenge is the continued shipping backlogs. There are continued problems at the U.S. ports as well as logistical challenges meeting rising demand. Instead of focusing on just-in-time inventory, businesses are now encouraged to stock up on in-demand items.
3. Globalization Challenges
Many international supply chain relationships will remain strained due to tensions between countries like Ukraine-Russia and the United States-China, which impacts things like the cost of energy and raw materials.
4. Consumer Pressures
Consumer wants and needs continue to have a significant impact on the supply chain. On the one hand, consumers want a personalized experience and lightning-fast delivery. On the other, they want to work with sustainable businesses that offer real-time visibility throughout the purchasing process.
Why Now is the Perfect Time to Pursue Technology Innovation
If your business is thinking about tackling these supply chain challenges with technology, it’s the ideal time to take action. According to a recent Gartner survey, 34% of supply chain leaders say adapting to new technology is the most important change organizations will make over the next five years. But why should your business act now? Here are several reasons:
1. Increased Global Competition
Businesses in every industry face stiff competition from peers locally and internationally. Companies must explore ways to reduce production costs while maintaining product and service quality.
Businesses try to beat their competitors in several ways, including finding cheaper labor, optimizing supply chains, and digitizing operations. Fortunately, pursuing technological innovation through robotics is one of the best ways to set your company apart from its competitors.
2. Shortage of Skilled Labor
Investing in robotics is one of the best ways to address your skilled labor shortage. Robots can supplement or even replace the efforts of production, warehouse, maintenance, administration staff, and other skilled workers. Even when you choose to keep workers on staff, having robots on the job can make human labor safer and more efficient.
3. Enhanced Operational Efficiency
Deploying robotic solutions enhances operational efficiency in a variety of ways. Robots provide high-quality and precise work by reducing the potential for fatigue and human error. Robots allow for the early identification of potential issues. They also increase repeatability in the workplace, so help ensure the final product is the same every time.
4. Post-Pandemic Supply Chain Stabilization
The supply chain has remained incredibly unstable since the start of the pandemic. There have been temporary port closures, rising energy costs, labor walkouts and strikes, and other issues that continue to impact operations. Businesses have learned that it’s vital to invest in upgrades to operations now to stabilize the supply chain and prevent similar issues in the future.
Top Supply Chain Trends in Robots in 2022 and Beyond
If your business wants to implement robotics, what are its options? Here are some of the top supply chain trends in robotics this year and moving forward.
1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a type of technology commonly used by businesses that deal with a large volume of repetitive tasks. One example is warehouses that deal with inventory management and manual invoicing — all tasks that can be easily automated through RPA.
2. Robotics as a Service (RaaS)
There is a rising trend in creating and using “as-a-service” models. Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) will work similarly to Software-as-a-Service, where businesses will use the RPA and robotic services they need on a subscription basis.
3. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
Driven by labor shortages, eCommerce growth, and the mass personalization of goods, the demand for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) has been increasing. For example, an AMR can replace a manual forklift in a warehouse or manufacturing space. Research from IDTechEx forecasts the value of the AMR market to reach $83 billion by 2032 and $334 billion by 2042.
4. Multi-Purpose Robots and Cobots
Multi-purpose robots and cobots are designed to work alongside humans, taking over repetitive or dangerous tasks. These machines can improve workplace efficiency and safety as well as address ongoing issues of employee satisfaction.
5. Delivery Robots
The market for delivery robots has been increasing as well. Last-mile delivery continues to be a challenge for businesses due to high cost, low efficiency, and reduced visibility. Using delivery robots for these functions can address all of these issues seamlessly.
Businesses will continue to face their fair share of supply chain challenges through 2022 and into the coming year. These issues, many of which stretch back to the start of the pandemic, promise to cause widespread disruption if not addressed appropriately. Fortunately, a host of technology solutions and robotics can help businesses achieve greater efficiency, visibility, and accuracy while saving money long term.