Firms hit by Covid-19 embrace automation

Warehouses are increasingly automating their operations due to the pandemic, which is reshaping the way business is done in the post-Covid world. 

With the virus triggering a reverse migration of labourers from urban centres and the need for social distancing becoming a necessity, FMCG, e-grocery, e-commerce and pharma industries are heavily investing in automation.

According to industry analysts, the trend will continue for the next 3-5 years. 

During the lockdown, Addverb Technologies saw a 300% surge in number of enquiries concerning automation, and was able to increase its order book by 3 times as compared to the pre-Covid levels.

In terms of enquiries, the company, which has 75 companies as its clients, added over 20 new ones such as Flipkart, Colgate-Palmolive, Diageo, J K Tyres in the last six months. It also managed to generate business with existing key clients like Reliance, HUL, Marico, Amazon etc.

“During the pandemic, we have seen major e-commerce, retail and FMCG clients explore Goods-To-Person systems,” said Sangeet Kumar, CEO and Co-Founder, Addverb Technologies. “This is mainly because they increase productivity and allow you to deploy reduced manpower, thereby enabling effective social distancing during operations.” 

The company has deployed its flagship Goods-To-Person system “Quadron”, a carton shuttle robot, for a major e-commerce player during the last 3 months.

Kumar said that usually automation orders can take anywhere between three months and two years to complete.

Consumer robots brand Milagrow Humantech has recorded an impressive growth of 1700% in October alone. During the first seven months of this fiscal, the company recorded a growth of 645% despite lockdown and supply chain disruptions.

The firm has been working with companies like Taj, Oberoi, ITC, JLL, Sodexo, AIIMS and Reliance Hospital.

In the last four years, the robotics and automation sector has grown at a CAGR of 500%, driven primarily by retail, logistics, FMCG and electronics, and Covid-19 has sped up the adoption.

Pradeep David, General Manager (South Asia), Universal Robots, said there has been an increase in interest in collaborative robots (cobots) from many manufacturers. 

“The flexible nature of cobots also helps manufacturers deploy cobots for multiple functions, be it packaging or assembly. Companies like Dell have been using UR’s cobots during the pandemic, and have improved their packaging efficiency without letting Covid-19 restrictions hinder them,” he said.

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