Ever evolving, robotics now can meet most any job in any situation, says Mike Futch, chief executive officer of Tompkins Robotics.
Futch acknowledges that robotics has been around for several years, but things are different today than they were just six or seven years ago. The technology has matured, reliability has taken off, and price points have come down.
“That's helping people throughout the marketplace, for our customers and people in general,” he says. “It saves on labor, and maximizes capacity, and there's a wide, wide variety of robotics solutions out there — anything from automated storage and retrieval robots, all the way down to pick-in-place robots, solicitation robots, AMRs and AGVs.”
So who’s making the investment in robotics? Futch says the customer base is segmented. Large firms, such as the 25 biggest retailers, along with the major parcel carriers, are very much into robotics. “They are adopting it much more than mid-sized and small firms. Number one, they have the capability financially. Number two, they realize they've got a real problem with workforce availability, with the wage increases that we're seeing right now, and with increasing capacity and demand. So those guys are adopting at a different rate than small to medium players.”
He says the adoption rate among the largest companies is around 50%, and some rollouts massive in scale and occurring across multiple sites. Small to medium-sized companies, by contrast, may account for just 10% of the investment in the technology.
Trends going forward include customers combining multiple robotic solutions into an integrated whole, robots at the back of stores and in dark stores, and consolidation among vendors.
“I don't imagine some of those guys will be here five years from now,” Futch says. “They're either going to be consolidated through acquisitions and mergers, or they're going to go out of business."
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