This past holiday season, more robots than ever were involved in the handling and shipping of your ecommerce orders and the movement of packages from fulfillment centers to your doorstep. The past several years have seen a significant uptick in interest in robots, but 2018 saw an evolution from interest and pilot programs to full on deployment and value generation. In fact, two vendors of autonomous mobile robots (AMR’s) made some news with the volume of units that their robots supported in the fulfillment process.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the second biggest retail and ecommerce sales events globally each year (second only to Singles Day). During this time, companies would historically hire an abundance of temporary labor to ramp up their ability to move product onto their racks and move this material off of those same shelves to the customer. But, the well documented shortage of labor in many major markets, including the US, Japan, Germany, and more, has made it more difficult and more expensive to increase capacity in this manner. Companies today, however, have a new set of tools at their disposal to help ramp up capacity. Robots are helping companies more quickly adapt to short term capacity increase requirements.