An updated report by international market research provider, Interact Analysis, suggests that the warehouse automation market is set to make long term gains into 2023.
Despite many industrial sectors suffering major losses as a result of the pandemic, COVID-19 has driven more people to turn to online shopping giving the sector a boost which is set to last well after the end of the pandemic. This is causing warehouse managers to increasingly resort to automation solutions to provide a more efficient, productive and socially distanced working environment on the shop floor.
A Closer Look at the Numbers
Due to COVID-19, revenue for 2020 will continue to depress as completion dates for projects are pushed back to next year; however, the sudden surge in online shopping has caused a significant increase in order intake. The second quarter order intake for Dematic has doubled compared to the same quarter in 2019, with the company planning to hire 1000 new staff by the end of the year. In addition to this, the market size of the automation sector is set to be 6% larger in 2023 than pre-pandemic forecasts. Although a lot of sectors such as manufacturing and apparel are predicted to see a drop in their market share – a combined decrease of $600m – the general merchandise and groceries are expected to make up for this fall, driving a significant overall net increase in the warehouse automation market. Data from the report puts that increase at a combined market value of $3.5bn higher than pre-pandemic forecasts. As a result of this, supermarket chains are now investing in their own warehouse automation. With contracts to manufacture 38 automated warehouses by the end of 2025, Ocado are set to become one of the leading warehouse automation providers.
Software Revenues Under Threat
Another important finding from the report is that warehouse automation software revenue seems to be under threat. An explanation for this is the growing trend among online retailers to bring warehouse execution and management software in-house. Companies like Amazon, Alibaba and JD.com have been leading the way in this trend and other retailers are starting to follow suit. As a result of this, we could see the market price of automation software commoditised forcing multiple systems integrators to tender bids for solution designs. Research is suggesting that more innovation is required to suit specific sectors which off the shelf software is not providing.
Interact Analysis’ lead analyst for warehouse automation, Rueben Scriven says:
“The warehouse automation world is on the move. COVID-19 has devastated high streets and shopping malls, but there are already signs that eCommerce retailers are preparing to step in, with grocery retailers taking advantage of disused sites to augment micro fulfilment centres onto existing stores, bringing the fulfilment process closer to the customer, and attracting customers and jobs back in to the high street. When it comes to the issue of automation software development moving in-house, we found that only the grocery sector will likely continue to heavily rely on existing integrator software solutions. The way forward for warehouse automation vendors supplying online retailers is to increase their ability to tailor their software offering to individual customers.”