Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


While Covid has proved disastrous for many industries like tourism & “HORECA” due to the outbreak and resulting lockdown, it has also unlocked some new avenues of growth in other sectors especially e-commerce, grocery, f&b, pharma & FMCG industries. Covid has changed the nature of demand and has also changed the way supply chain was handled. It has tested the resilience of the industries and also questioned dependence on contract workforce for critical operations, especially in Warehouses & Distribution Centre. When Moore observed the fact that the number of transistors in an IC doubles approximately after every two years, it was believed to be the basic principle for the survival of any technology. Here we have a look at the tech trends that will disrupt the Industrial automation sector in 2021:

Autonomous Mobile Robots: With the automated driving market heating up with a multitude of startups competing to take the lead, resulting in the maturity of technology, the coming year will see the adoption of autonomous mobile robots in the manufacturing and warehousing sector. The industry will migrate to more advanced navigation technologies such as LIDAR, RADAR & Cameras from the existing basic magnetic tape solutions. While the robots were first born in factories decades ago, the latest developments and the pace of business operations made it almost a mandate for many companies to adopt these bots into their everyday operations. Talking about the Indian business domain, Robots have been traditionally used in automotive industries for welding processes but several factors in the last decade like rise of organised retail, e-commerce boom and shift of electronics manufacturing to India has provided the much-needed trigger for the rise of robotics. In last four years the Robotics & Automation sector has grown by a CAGR of 500% primarily driven by Retail, Logistics, FMCG and Electronics. Robots are fast penetrating into new industries with each passing day, for instance healthcare and logistics segment. This shift has been hastened by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Mobile Robots Application will soon become the harbingers for the realization of ‘Lean Manufacturing’ that connects islands of automation across different business functions. We have analysed a recent report from Interact Analysis that predicts the collaborative robot market to be worth $7.5 billion by 2027 globally. This would equate to roughly 29% of the global industrial robot market. Businesses that embrace automation will not only be able to leave behind any inefficiencies but look towards a future of expansion- that combines both human and robotic talents.

Robotics As a Service (RaaS): The growth of e-commerce in the current period has catalyzed the use of mobile robots in the warehouse and instigated R&D for continuous improvement. In order to optimize the complete value chain, companies specifically in this industry are interested to invest more in their core business and outsource the rest. Hence RaaS (Robotics as a Service) as a practice is coming up in conversations in recent day and will flourish in the year 2021. According to ABI research, there will be more than 1.3 million RAAS deployments worldwide by 2026. Because of its flexibility, high throughput and scalability organizations are finding RAAS as a more effective way to adopt in warehouses. It helps small, large and medium businesses to meet the growing demand and overcome major challenges faced while performing warehouse operations.

Cobotics: Collaborative robots or Cobots, are currently facing its boom period leveraging its easy configuration and app-based controls and looking forward to have a mass adoption by various industries. Cobots have built in safety mechanism including power and force limiting technologies which make them safe to collaborate with human operators. As per Research, by 2023, the collaborative-robot market is expected to grow to approximately $2 billion and 150,000 units. Cobots play a big role in the development of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things. These days cobots area being used for various tasks such as pick and place, finishing tasks, Process Tasks (which requires a tool to interact with a workpiece), packaging and palletizing, quality inspection etc. Right now, we’re at a tipping point whereby there aren’t too many hurdles anymore to leverage this technology. We may count it as the day 0, when cobots will transform the trends in the automation sphere and will realize the implementations of Industry 4.0.

Same-Day Shipping: While same-day shipping isn’t necessarily a new trend in warehouse management, the tools required to keep up with the demands are. Micro fulfilment centers are small-scale warehouse facilities which will drive out the ecommerce sector from the narrow delivery window. Located inside the cities at strategic locations, MFCs enable a less than 2-hour delivery from the time an order is placed till it gets delivered. Being on time every time, it eliminates the complex web of last-mile delivery for the e-commerce retailer. Today consumers are interested in the convenience that online ecommerce business creates and the market is responding positively towards that by migrating to fast service. Micro fulfilment Center provides retail operators to satiate that consumer requirement and that too efficiently, at a low and profitable cost.

Innovation in the future supermarket will come with new opportunities for merchandising and impact on the 4Ps (price, product, place, and promotion).

Explore the new frontiers of Automation and Robotics for your business with Addverb Technologies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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