When discussing with vendors on why mobile robotics are essential in warehouses, labor shortages continue to stand out as a critical issue in the industry and are a major factor driving the growth of mobile robotics. Productivity and efficiency are also central topics, with e-commerce retailers facing high SKUs, high volumes and customers’ high expectations for fulfillment, along with intense seasonal fluctuations during major sales and festive seasons. Safety and reliability are key concerns as well, as human errors can lead to significant property loss and cripple operations. In the lithium battery industry, inappropriate material handling can be particularly costly and dangerous.

Beyond these perennial factors, mobile warehouse robotics also provide another dimension of value: flexibility. During a presentation on mobile warehouse robotics at a supply chain conference in Singapore this year, a local SME posed a question about the flexibility in choosing automation technology. He mentioned his short warehouse lease of only five years and asked what kind of automation would best fit his needs, considering that by the time an automation system is set up, there might be only a few years left to fully capitalize on the technology. He wondered which solution would yield the best return on investment. No prize for guessing what solution was proposed: mobile warehouse robots, since he can typically consider reusing the robots in his next warehouse setup, unlike traditional bolt-down automation.

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