Customers are turning to robotics in the warehouse because of the technology's modularity and scalability, says Romain Moulin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Exotec Inc.
When Moulin speaks of automation in the warehouse, he thinks of huge and quite complex machinery; he thinks of hardware. Conversely, when it comes to robotics, he tends to think of software and more intelligence.
“There’s an army of robots running everywhere in the warehouse, bringing totes to your operators so that you can speed up their processes,” he says.
With robots, one has the ability to get to work as soon as they’re out of the box. “This system can be deployed much faster, say, in six months, instead of usually one to one-and-a-half years,” Moulin says. “That's really the speed of deployment. And then there’s the ability to add modules, to add robots, to scale up the system, which makes a difference between robotics and automation. Things are more flexible when you use robotics.”
Looking at the robotics industry as a whole, Moulin sees tremendous growth possibilities in the coming years, given the fact that current warehouse operations are still around 90% manual.
The 10% with automation has less flexibility than they would have with robotics, he says. “These are systems that are difficult to modify. And once you put in the system, you don't touch it for 10 years. So we are bringing flexibility to these customers, the ability to have a high performance machine, but at the same time a machine that can be modified. I'm pretty sure that of this 90% with a manual warehouse, a big part of it will be converted to robotics. So it's a tremendous market.”
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