5 min read

This Year's Top 5 Trends in Automation

Over the past decade, warehouse automation has seen steadily grown as more industries and businesses rely on automation technologies. More specifically, the global warehouse automation market shows no signs of slowing down. It was valued at $21.7 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $93 billion by 2031. 

Automation has been a major factor in increasing efficiency and accuracy in warehouses around the world and will continue to make a massive impact for the foreseeable future. 

By automating processes such as picking, packing, and shipping, companies have been able to reduce costs while improving customer satisfaction. Automation is also making it easier for companies to manage and track inventory more effectively. 

Still, many companies are just scratching the surface of automation possibilities – and the industry is changing dramatically. To cover some of the most recent evolutions, Tompkins Robotics has compiled a list of new trends in warehouse automation technology.

(1) Micro-Fulfillment

Micro-fulfillment is a new trend that involves using small automated warehouses to quickly and efficiently fulfill customer orders. It has become increasingly popular due to its ability to reduce the time and cost associated with traditional warehousing methods while providing customers with faster delivery times.

Additionally, micro-fulfillment setups enable companies to store more inventory in smaller spaces, which is ideal for businesses operating in densely populated areas. Micro-fulfillment also helps companies manage their inventory more effectively by tracking and monitoring their stock levels in real time, thus limiting human error.

At Tompkins Robotics, we have developed an effective tSort™ solution for micro-fulfillment that…
  • Can be quickly deployed
  • Significantly lowers labor and cost
  • Increases speed and accuracy
  • Costs a fraction of the typical order fulfillment-type solution
The entire portable system fits in existing backroom space, requires no permits or fire protection, and can be assembled and installed within a week.

Tompkins Robotics' micro-fulfillment system is purposefully designed to provide overhead transport of goods to and from the selling floor – eliminating floor congestion, reducing labor costs, and increasing ROI.

(2) Robots as a Service (RaaS)

Robots as a Service (RaaS) is a concept that is quickly gaining traction in the warehouse automation industry. It allows companies to access robotic technology without having to purchase, maintain, and operate the robots themselves. This makes it easier for businesses to reap the benefits of robotic automation without investing in expensive hardware and software.

As RaaS becomes more popular, statistics show that its use has grown significantly over the past few years. The RaaS market size is expected to grow by $1.23 billion from 2021 to 2026 – representing an impressive 18.12% CAGR during that time period.

This rapid growth indicates that more businesses are recognizing the potential of robotic automation and choosing RaaS as their preferred solution for warehouse automation needs.

RaaS allows companies access to robotics and the ability to "flex up" in throughput by adding more tSort robots before the busy season. This allows them to operate at the capacity needed while avoiding the risk and high costs of purchasing robotics outright.

Several case studies show that the RaaS model is becoming increasingly popular among companies who want to enter into warehouse automation processes while holding onto their capital. This model grants companies access to robotic solutions without forcing them to invest in the upfront costs associated with purchasing and maintaining the robots.

Additionally, it offers built-in life-cycle services, which provide maintenance aimed at reducing operational costs and improving efficiency each quarter. Companies will ALWAYS have access to the latest technologies and services available under a RaaS subscription.

(3) Automated Sortation Systems

Effective supply chain networks design their facilities with an efficient flow and scalable operations in mind. Inbound and returns are two key areas of warehouse operations that could benefit greatly from automation.

The tSort's modular and flexible design makes it the perfect solution for automating these processes. With its intelligent algorithms and advanced technology, tSort can accurately identify incoming shipments and returns, allowing for faster processing times, improved accuracy, and reduced labor costs. Additionally, its modular design allows for easy integration with existing systems and processes, making it an ideal choice for warehouses of any size or complexity.

Warehouses can become overwhelmed with orders at various points throughout the year, especially during the holiday season. Automated sortation systems can be a great help during the busy seasons, managing the high demand and keeping up with customer expectations. Robots and sorting machines can speed up the process of sorting orders and ensure they are delivered on time.

Automation also reduces errors in order fulfillment, which is especially important during peak times when there is a greater chance for mistakes. With the right automation system in place, warehouses can ensure that customers get their orders quickly and accurately – even during the most hectic times of the year.

(4) Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a computer-based system that helps manage the storage and movement of goods within a warehouse. It is designed to optimize the use of space, labor, and resources in order to maximize efficiency and reduce overall costs.

WMS are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to automate many aspects of warehouse operations, such as inventory tracking, order fulfillment, shipping, receiving, and much more. By automating these processes within a WMS, businesses can save time and money while improving order accuracy.

Tompkins Robotics is a leading provider of warehouse automation solutions that leverage the latest digital technologies. Tompkins Robotics’ solutions are designed to weave together people, processes, and systems to improve performance in warehouses and distribution centers. Through our robotic automation solutions, we help warehouse operations reduce costs while increasing accuracy and efficiency.

Tompkins Robotics has built custom interfaces for most of the leading global WMS products, enabling a powerful order fulfillment and robotic sortation solution for both inbound/outbound and unit/parcels across dozens of warehouse operations, including returns operations.

(5) Automated Store Replenishment

In the past decade, there has been a significant shift in the way retailers manage their warehouses and distribution centers. With the advent of modern distribution and fulfillment strategies, retailers have looked to technology and innovation to increase throughput.

Automated store replenishment is a high throughput, low operating cost solution that is becoming increasingly popular in warehouses. It allows for the automated and efficient replenishment of inventory in stores, reducing the need for manual labor while increasing productivity.

Automated store replenishment uses warehouse automation technologies such as robotics, machine vision, and RFID to identify and locate items quickly and accurately. The system can be used to track stock levels, ensure orders are filled accurately, reduce costs associated with excess inventory, and provide real-time inventory data KPI metrics. It provides a cost-effective solution for businesses looking to improve efficiency in their warehouses.

Couple store replenishment with automated tote takeaway by the xChange™ AMR robot for a fully automated experience that is less reliant on high-priced labor.

The Wrap Up

Warehouse automation leverages the use of robotic systems, computer-controlled systems, and other advanced technologies to increase efficiency in warehouses. Investment in automation reduces operational costs associated with labor, improves product accuracy, and speeds up order processing times. By using warehouse automation, retailers can transform their operations with more efficient best practices while still maintaining unit economics that work in the retailer’s favor.

In the future, we expect automation to continue to play an even larger role in the warehouse and distribution industry. Automated robots will be used for tasks such as picking, packing, sorting, and loading items into trucks or containers. AI-driven analytics analyze data from warehouses to better optimize entire networks and fleet operations.

With the fast adoption of technology trends, warehouse automation has become a necessity for businesses to stay competitive in the market. Tompkins Robotics is a trusted advisor at the forefront of the latest trends, offering cutting-edge solutions that can transform businesses, increase productivity & quality, and reduce operational costs and supply chain risks.

By leaning into Tompkins Robotics’ expertise and experience, companies ensure that they are taking advantage of the latest warehouse automation trends to create an efficient workflow.

Reach out to Tompkins Robotics today to learn more about how your business can benefit from these technology innovations!