Plus One sought to understand how many people are performing common warehouse tasks in environments such as ecommerce fulfilment and distribution centers that could potentially be automated.
Plus One Robotics, the leading 3D vision software maker for logistics robotics published new research findings from a study that examined warehouses in the US and Europe to understand warehouse footprints, square footage and number of employees working in the locations. The company commissioned the research, carried out by market intelligence firm Interact Analysis, to also study which roles are carried out by these workers. Plus One sought to understand how many people are performing common warehouse tasks in environments such as ecommerce fulfilment and distribution centers that could potentially be automated.
"The International Federation of Robotics has often pointed out that Germany and Japan have some of the highest concentrations of industrial robots per head of manufacturing workers in the developed world. And yet it will come as no surprise to most to learn that Germany and Japan also have amongst the largest numbers of manufacturing jobs in the developed world. The same logic applies here," said Ash Sharma, Senior Research Director, Interact Analysis.
He continues, "Our research shows that warehouse automation is an understandable necessity in a fast-growing market. As automation gets more advanced, it makes fulfillment cheaper and more efficient, resulting in more consumers choosing to shop online leading to greater warehousing demand. On this basis, and assuming the overall warehouse market keeps growing, the warehouse companies that automate the most will also grow the most, and therefore it will be these companies that create the most jobs of all types - including manual warehouse roles."
The evidence suggests that many of the people who gravitated to e-commerce temporarily during COVID-19 will stick with it permanently. During the lengthy periods of lockdown, huge numbers of consumers bought essentials - from light bulbs to shoes to prescriptions - that they wouldn't previously have purchased online. For many, they will not be going back, and they want their orders sooner. The average package delivery time in the US decreased from 2.1 days before the pandemic to 1.7 days by the end of 2020, according to ParcelLab.*
The research, which involved speaking to almost every single significant warehouse automation provider globally, revealed:
-The US had 1.6 million warehouse employees in 2019 which is forecast to grow to just under 2 million in 2024, while Europe had 2.5 million warehouse employees in 2019 which is forecast to grow to 3.1 million in 2024.
-Both Europe and the US are forecast to grow with a similar CAGR of approximately 4% between 2019 and 2024, With demand forecast at this rate, the research found that one million additional warehouse employees will be required, or 25% growth in five years.
"Plus One was founded on the notion that people and robots working together is the best solution in the warehouse. Our goal has been to help humans move to value-added positions by building software that functions intelligently on its own, but also recognizing that no fully autonomous software solution will be perfect on its own. Robots are useful tools, but they function best with intelligent software and human oversight. We see first-hand the challenges our customers are facing to meet labor shortages, and this research confirms that even with the forecast levels of automation, we'll need more humans in the loop," said Erik Nieves, CEO and co-founder, Plus One Robotics.
The survey also examined which tasks required the most workers, and which were the fastest growing areas for automation. Goods-to-person (G2P) picking is the fastest growing warehouse activity - where items are delivered to sorting and packing stations. G2P picking leverages AMR's and is scalable, enabling warehouse operators to economically automate in existing environments. Packing and conveyor induction were also in the top three fastest growing positions. These three sectors represented 17% of all warehouse roles in 2019 (over 693,000 jobs), but this figure will be 21% by 2024 (over 1,000,000 jobs) - a CAGR of 9.3%.
Download the white paper, The Great Exploding Warehouse, for more details. Research publication date: May 2021.
*Interact Analysis ‘Warehouse Automation 2021'
About Plus One Robotics, Inc.
Plus One Robotics was founded in 2016, with a mission to bring leading-edge 3D and AI vision to industrial robots, enabling hand-eye coordination for material handling in the warehouse. Founded by computer vision and robotics industry veterans, Plus One's novel approach to human/robot collaboration and supervised autonomy ensures fast, accurate, and scalable solutions, with one person able to manage many robots simultaneously. Plus One's customers include logistics and ecommerce leaders in the Fortune 100; the company is headquartered in San Antonio, TX, with offices in Boulder, CO and The Netherlands. Visit www.plusonerobotics.com for more information, and follow us on www.linkedin.com/PlusOne-Robotics.