The global supply-chain rests on the ability of retailers and service providers to move material, goods, commodities, and packages from the factory to the distribution center to the end-point. Intralogistics, freight, and delivery, on which logistics companies base their value, are costly endeavors, employing millions of workers globally, and costing both business and consumer hundreds of billions a year.
Alongside these costs, there has been an explosion of demand in e-commerce fulfillment, in countries where the labor shortage is acute. These forces are driving the adoption of mobile robots for material handling, both indoors and out.
Due to ease of adoption, sufficient innovation, and fewer regulatory barriers, this growth is particularly concentrated in the warehousing space and on the factory floor for intralogistics in manufacturing. While the majority of mobile platforms currently require costly infrastructure for localization and navigation, these are changing rapidly with the commoditization of sensors and the proliferation of machine vision capabilities. Growth is less apparent in long-haul freight or in last-mile delivery, for both technical and regulatory reasons.
This report analyzes the deployment of robotics across the supply-chain. From first-mile material moving to freight, to warehousing and to last-mile delivery- there has been extensive testing of robots and unmanned systems to automate logistics to increase productivity. There is significant variability in the penetration rate of automation across these markets, and specific attention is paid to the technological trends that are making logistics a viable market for what is currently a small industry.