Order Fulfilment Mobile Robots on the Rise
September 5, 2019
intelligence firm Interact Analysis has conducted new research showing
huge potential growth in the importance of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs),
specifically in order fulfilment applications.
The research shows how the acquisition of Kiva Systems by Amazon, and
its subsequent dominance of online retailing through heavy adoption of
robotics and automation, has triggered two significant trends in the
industry. First, it led to the emergence of dozens of robotics start-ups
to fill the vacuum that Kiva left behind. Second, it has forced
retailers and logistics companies to adopt automation to keep pace with
Consequently, Interact Analysis believes a tipping point is approaching
over autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) used to support order fulfilment.
The findings show that, excluding Amazon, more than 100,000 AMRs will
have been deployed for order fulfilment by the end of 2020, and that
more than 580,000 will be installed over the next five years.
Although fewer than 300 sites had order fulfilment AMRs deployed at the
end of last year, explosive growth is predicted due to the ‘perfect
storm’ of a number of key drivers. The report highlights the ‘Amazon
Effect’, whereby e-commerce companies are being forced to increase speed
and flexibility of operation in order to keep up.
Record low unemployment rates, coupled with the on-going shift of
younger generations away from manual labor, have also created a major
shortage of warehouse workers, increasing demand for automated systems.
The speed with which the technology has matured and moved beyond the
early adopter stage has made deployment an increasingly attractive
Sharma, research director at Interact Analysis, says: “With Amazon
deploying Kiva’s goods-to-person approach for order fulfilment, it’s
easy to see why others like GreyOrange, Geek+ and Quicktron have
followed in its footsteps, and arguably have seen greatest success so
“Despite this, AMR vendors have emerged with a variety of different
approaches and sub-approaches. The question over which technology or
approach will ‘win’ is not an easy one to answer. All approaches are
forecast for strong growth (albeit at different paces and timeframes),
and the approach preferred will depend on a number of variables.
“While in every industry there are always winners and losers, right now
it appears that the size of the untapped opportunity and the underlying
drivers of demand are more than strong enough to support all the vendor
types we see today, and as a result we expect very promising growth for