A recent report looking at the state of automation in UK warehousing published by OW Robotics, supplier of flexible automated warehouse solutions, has identified retail as one of the main sectors that could see strong potential gains from the robot revolution – in both the short and long-term.
The UK Warehouse Robotics Readiness Report, pulls together research and insights from across the UKs warehousing sector, analysing the current state of robotics in retail, the barriers and challenges to implementation and examples of those businesses already setting the pace in warehouse robotics.
The report explains how retail businesses are turning to large-scale automation to boost picking rates and picking accuracy, and to save valuable square feet in the warehouse to create space for more stock. All to keep-up with the ever-growing trend to ecommerce.
OW Robotics created a scoring system to rank the impact warehouse robotics could have on retail. It believes robotics could play a role in transforming the fortunes of high street brands that have seen in-store sales drop off and are struggling to meet online demand – enabling them to future-proof their business model for the omni-channel world.
David Hallam, chief executive officer at OW Robotics, which supplies Hikrobot robots to businesses says the report highlights how labour gaps, space shortages, and the impact of Brexit and Covid-19, have created the perfect conditions for robotics adoption across UK warehousing, he says;
“Although the report highlighted opportunities for retail businesses, it’s clear that most businesses in the UK which rely on warehousing could benefit from robotics to an extent, whether that’s short-term gains, long-term ROI or both.
“A number of key factors affecting UK warehouse operators have all seemingly come together in the past year, which have highlighted how important robotics and automated solutions in the warehouse could be for the future. It’s well documented that warehouse space is sparse, driving up costs for space that is available. Brexit is having an impact on access to and the pool of warehouse operatives available, and Covid-19 has brought forwards the drive to online by a number of years, transforming many people’s buying habits.
“All this means the warehouse operation is becoming central to success and therefore picking rates and throughput has become even more integral to meeting customer demand for products.
“There are of course challenges for any retail business to adopt robotics, but it is clear, the robotics revolution is only going to gather pace over the coming years. Those who adapt quickly have an opportunity to significantly grow their market share, those who don’t, may find their business model obsolete. Manual processes are ill-suited to the high order volumes of ecommerce retail – it is only a matter of time before they are phased out completely.”
To read The UK Warehouse Robotics Readiness Report in full, you can download it here.