After a 6 percent drop in the automation warehouse market in 2020, the industry is now expecting a growth of 38.4 percent in 2021. One of the keys to this continued growth is the market maturity of mobile robots. Aside from the widely documented productivity boost enabled by the technology, robots also help to reduce workplace health and safety hazards. Importantly, given the intensified labor market volatility this year, robot-based solutions also help to provide employers operational stability.
The benefits are being translated at scale as investment activity mounts. Softbank’s recent $2.8 billion investment in Norwegian warehouse automation specialist AutoStore is one of several funding rounds pointing to the operational gains that robotics provide in intralogistics.
Market growth for warehouse automation
The number and size of warehouses worldwide are growing rapidly in line with the continued growth in e-commerce. In order to keep up with this growth, warehouse operators are increasingly turning to automation solutions to improve efficiency and reduce time-to-handle. Already on the rise before the pandemic, it is now predicted that the warehouse automation sector will be 6% larger by 2023 than pre-pandemic forecasts predicted.
In 2019, the global warehouse automation market was estimated at $15 billion, an increase of 10.9 percent over the previous year. After a setback caused in large part by the pandemic, 2021 is set to witness a 38.4 percent growth, reaching a market valuation of $19.5 billion. Furthermore, estimates show that the market is expected to grow 150% by 2025 and cross the $37.6 billion mark by 2030. Compound annual growth this decade is estimated to be approximately 10 percent. And there is still space for plenty more. China, for example, accounts for 44 percent of all e-commerce retail sales despite the fact that a third of its population has never made an online purchase.