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REPORT: Logistics automation in the GCC

by ASC Staff on Mar 31, 2017

In 2014, the global automated material handling equipment market was valued at $22.5-billion, by 2016 that had increased to $33-billion, according to Forbes. Separate research by Markets & Markets expects global valuation of $44.6-billion by 2022, an annual growth of almost 8%.

This makes automated material handling one of the fastest growing sectors in logistics. In an industry that is saturated by conveyor belts and tote carriers, this makes sense. Now is the time for automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) to make their own space. Seegrid reports that sales of its automated autonomous vehicles doubled in 2016.

The manufacturer of vision-guided autonomous vehicles for material handling says that by making per-unit business more profitable for its customers, it has seen a significant jump in demand. In addition, the company has worked to customise options for clients, while also upgrading its backend software support. “Our customers aren’t just looking for advanced robotics systems to meet their immediate logistics needs, but a platform and vision to help transform their entire business,” says Jim Rock, Seegrid’s CEO in a report by Allied Market Research. “Seegrid’s success in 2016 can be attributed, in large part, to our ability to support forward looking Enterprise Intelligence initiatives.” Industry experts agree that AGVs do not serve the sole purpose of object relocation.

They have been designed to do much more than just that. When faced with an interaction other than the instructed item or shelf, these vehicles can reroute their movement based on the smart evaluation of surrounding parameters. In this way they are able to mimic human behaviour and adjust their route in a similar fashion. In the Middle East market in particular shipments of mobile robotics will grow from 4 million in 2012 to 25.4 million in 2020. The fastest growing sector in this expansion is predicted to be logistics, with unit shipments of logistics related robotics increasing from 1,400 in 2012 to 95,000 in 2020, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan.

Robotics and automation is an area that DHL believes will see rapid adoption within the next five years, particularly “collaborative robots” that work side-by-side with human employees, supporting repetitive and physically demanding tasks in logistics. DHL has said it has made inroads in logistics, with autonomous forklifts and other self-piloted equipment now “reaching a level of maturity” in warehouse operations.

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