Demand for robotic goods-to-person (G2P) material handling systems is expected to quadruple over the next two years as organizations seek ways to enforce social distancing in warehouses, according to data from industry analyst Gartner.
“Fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is increasing demand for robotics in warehouses and distribution centers,” Dwight Klappich, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, said in a statement this week. “G2P systems are an easy and economical way to not only enforce social distancing, but also improve productivity.”
Klappich added that robotic G2P systems are especially attractive because they are easy to implement and less invasive than other social distancing technologies, such as those that track employees’ movements.
“Keeping people in place and using a virus-resistant robot to move goods around respects people’s privacy and keeps them safe at the same time,” Klappich said.
G2P systems also drive broader long-term improvements in efficiency and productivity while offering other benefits, such as greater storage density.
The G2P data is part of a larger report on supply chain technology trends for 2021 that also predicts accelerated investment in artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics (AA) capabilities among supply chain organizations. The data show that 50% of those organizations plan such investments through 2024, primarily to meet a growing need to make better, more informed decisions faster.
“Leading organizations use AI and AA to dig through the vast amounts of data they generate to understand what is happening in their business now and–more importantly–what is likely to happen in the future,” according to Andrew Stevens, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice.
Companies will continue to invest in applications that embed, augment, or apply AI and AA tools, he said.
“Supply chain leaders should adopt a broad and holistic perspective when it comes to AI and AA. These technologies are increasingly ubiquitous, and there are many ways in which they can be applied–such as data mining for smart manufacturing, visibility tools and autonomous transportation, and to aid customer retention,” Stevens said.