TROY Intelligent

In the warehousing logistics robot market, is it a concept or a real skill?

With the last two months left in 2020, the global epidemic is still anxious. Although the epidemic has opened the distance between people, it has also promoted the application development of individual industries. Warehouse logistics robot is one of them.

   At the CeMAT Asia Asia International Logistics Exhibition, which ended last week, various robotic solutions attracted a lot of attention. From re-deployed shelves to people, bins to people, to orders that emphasize lightness and flexibility, automation technology is everywhere.

   It is not difficult to see that the epidemic not only enables the public to truly realize the value of technologies such as robots and artificial intelligence, but also promotes all walks of life to reassess the urgency of reforming production methods.

   At the end of October, the National Development and Reform Commission and other six ministries and commissions jointly issued a document, proposing the implementation of a robot and smart equipment promotion plan, and speeding up the promotion and application of automation and intelligent equipment. For enterprises, it is the general trend to introduce suitable man-machine collaboration solutions to improve efficiency and stability.

   Under the joint attention of policy, capital and public opinion, the concept of robot automation that has attracted much attention has been further pushed to the front. However, the lessons learned from the robot industry bubble around 2014 are still vivid. Is this new wave of enthusiasm to follow the trend and create a gimmick, or is it true?

   coincides with "Double 11", we might as well explore e-commerce warehousing and logistics robots as a specimen.

  The momentum: Amazon took over a warehouse robot company for $775 million

   In March 2012, Amazon announced the acquisition of a company called Kiva Systems for $775 million in cash, and introduced its AGV (automated guided vehicles) products into Amazon's warehouse network.

Simply put, an AGV is a robot car that can walk along a prescribed navigation path through navigation methods such as electromagnetic tracks and QR codes. This type of robot was mainly used in the field of manufacturing in the early days. Major global auto factories such as Toyota and Volkswagen all widely used AGV in manufacturing and assembly lines.

   With the "blessing" of the big brother and weather vane Amazon, the AGV concept quickly became popular in the e-commerce logistics circle. In China on the other side of the ocean, recruits and veterans such as Hairou Innovation, Siasun, Kuaicang, and Jizhijia are competing to enter the game. According to the Geek Park report, as of the end of 2018, according to incomplete statistics, more than 50 warehousing AGV companies have appeared in China.

   In fact, around 2018, the European and American industries began to reassess the general applicability of AGV in the field of e-commerce warehousing. After several years of verification, everyone found that the flexibility of AGV seems to be unable to adapt to the impulsive fluctuations in e-commerce business volume-because every time an AGV is added to the warehouse, the environment must be rearranged. The heavy investment in the early stage and the superimposed cost in the later stage have put the payback cycle to the test.

  In the Asian market, e-commerce warehousing AGVs have also experienced inadequacy. For example, Asian customers generally attach great importance to the effective use of the warehouse area, and the navigation guidance such as the QR code and track required by the AGV, as well as its fixed movement track, are not conducive to the improvement of the utilization rate of the warehouse area.

In addition, many countries in Southeast Asia are large raw materials and production countries, and the process from production to sales of local e-commerce is relatively short. Unlike major importing countries such as Europe and the United States, e-commerce warehouses in Southeast Asia do not have excessive storage requirements. Instead, distribution centers and picking centers dominate. Therefore, the AGV that is good at material handling seems to be in a dilemma of uselessness.

   So, in the next few years, another type of robot gradually replaced AGV and frequently appeared in the discussion of e-commerce warehousing logistics. It is AMR.

   Evolution: When a robot moves autonomously like a driverless car

   AMR is called autonomous mobile robots (autonomous mobile robots). Although they all start with the letter "A", AGV is "automatic traction" and AMR is "autonomous movement", which shows that there are essential differences between the two.

   Relying on visual perception and AI algorithms, the core value of AMR is to perceive the surrounding environment in real time and quickly respond appropriately. Just like a driverless car, the route can be adjusted at any time according to road conditions. In the warehouse environment, AMR is like a "superman" with ultra-high precision, autonomously and flexibly cooperating with human partners.

Take picking AMR as an example. After the robot receives the order, it will immediately plan the optimal route according to the location of each product. After "walking" to the corresponding position, the robot in the area will be prompted to put the product into the bin, and then move to the next picking point until The whole order picking is completed and transported to the packing station. Moreover, multiple orders can be picked per trip.

  In this way, the staff only need to cooperate with the loading or packaging of goods in their respective areas, and AMR will open up the efficiency from order acquisition to packaging, and realize the automation of orders to people.

   Interestingly, the early team of Kiva Systems mentioned above separated the two most well-known warehouse AMR brands in the world: Locus Robotics and 6 River Systems. The latter was acquired by e-commerce giant Shopify for $450 million in 2019.

   In China, there are smart technology and Syrius torch, which is popular in overseas markets, and other AMR-focused companies were born. In addition, a large number of traditional logistics AGV players have also transformed to AMR.

According to a report by Interact Analysis, an authoritative data agency, the global AMR industry's total revenue in 2019 was US$749 million, an increase of 70% year-on-year; even in 2020, which is shrouded in the shadow of the new crown, the annual growth rate is expected to reach 45%. Its development in the post-epidemic era has attracted considerable attention.

  Future: Multi-product form service segmentation scenarios, towards closed-loop automation

  Although the future can be expected, it cannot be ignored that AMR is still in the early stage of landing as a whole. In the sub-scenarios of e-commerce warehousing and logistics such as picking, warehousing, etc., we have seen some commercial-proven solutions, but a mature full-scenario product closed loop has not yet been formed.

   There is no doubt that for the application and promotion of new technologies, first focusing on subdivided scenes for refined polishing, and then considering platform expansion is the most practical and reliable path. Even in the companies that have grown from the AGV era, we have seen Hairou's innovation that still focuses on box-type storage robots, and we have also seen Jizhijia who focus on building a product matrix.

   In contrast, there are still large blanks of the e-commerce warehousing AMR market to be explored. Whether companies can get through customer pain points and product experience as soon as possible, and whether core technologies can be quickly transplanted and product platformization will be the key to determining the next competitive landscape. We sincerely hope that people who believe in the value of science and technology can move forward steadily with awe and focus, and do not let new production methods become a bargaining chip for capital games.

agv cars

Leave a message Leave a message
If you have questions or suggestions, please leave us a message,we will reply you as soon as we can!