Interact Analysis has published a new report on the mobile robot market, forecasting that revenues will grow by nearly a quarter in 2020, despite the chaos and uncertainties being felt around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenues are set to reach $2.4bn this year and will surge by a further 50% in 2021 as the impact of the pandemic leads to greater demand for mobile automation.
Sales of automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which perform material handling tasks automatically without human intervention, but are limited to navigation using physical infrastructure, will lag behind sales of the more advanced autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), which can navigate without the need for external markers or infrastructure. Despite the pandemic leading to delays in the orders in the first half of 2020, Interact Analysis predicts revenue growth this year of 11% for AGVs, and 45% for AMRs, an average of 24% growth across the whole sector. Healthy figures, though the pre-pandemic 2020 growth forecast for the sector was 60%. But COVID-19 will be a game-changer for the sector in the next few years, with sales spiraling in the run up to 2024.
The surge in e-commerce, and the reshoring of key manufacturing as economies re-set themselves in the face of the pandemic and the West to some extent de-couples from China, will be major drivers of mobile robot growth. As will requirements for social distancing and reduced reliance on human labor, and the need for speed and efficiency in the workplace. Manufacturing will be the dominant sector into 2021, but logistics will then take off as investment in robot technology in that sector spirals. Warehouses used to support online orders and store replenishment are starting to deploy large quantities of robots, and general merchandise companies such as Chinese internet giant JD.com, Alibaba and Amazon are already making huge investments in AMRs in their warehouses (although Amazon makes their own robots, meaning this business is captive and isn’t included in our market analysis). Interact Analysis predicts that the logistics sector will invest around $9bn in 2024, as opposed to around $1bn in 2020. Mobile robot investment in the manufacturing sector will peak at around $5bn in 2024.
Ash Sharma, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis says: “The internet shopping boom due to the pandemic e-commerce volumes have gone forward 5 years overnight which is leading to companies accelerating their automation plans. What companies were planning for 2024-2025 is happening now due to the coronavirus. Companies realize they need to be less reliant on human labor, and that they need to make manufacturing and warehousing more resilient and efficient. Mobile automation has been recognized as the answer. Please get in touch with me for more information on our 2020 mobile robot report”.