I recently completed ARC Advisory Group’s research study on the global automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) market. This study provides a valuable framework and detailed insights into a dynamic, rapidly growing set of systems that is critical to today’s fulfillment operations. I would like to take this opportunity to outline ARC’s framework and process for this analysis, provide links to interesting reference material, and present some of the insights that were obtained from this research project.
The AS/RS Market Research Framework
ARC has included AS/RS within its research of the broader warehouse automation market for many years. However, explicitly researching the AS/RS market separate from other warehouse subsystems allowed me to dig deeper into the providers and offerings and determine some fascinating trends. First, ARC divided the AS/RS market into four subcategories – Traditional unit load (>300 kg), traditional mini-load (<300 kg), shuttle systems (independent movement of lifts and load carrier shuttles), and cube-based automated storage. The systems in these subcategories are distinct in their value propositions they deliver. They also address differing requirements and are experiencing a wide range of growth rates.
Interesting AS/RS Providers on My Radar
I was familiar with most of the major AS/RS providers prior to engaging on this research project – as most also offer a broad range of warehouse automation. However, there are a number of stand-alone subsystem providers that caught my attention during this project. For example, AutoStore sells through distribution partners and these partners represent the AutoStore business in ARC’s research. AutoStore partners such as Element Logic and LG CNS have an established presence within their respective regions and are well positioned for the rapid growth ARC is forecasting for cube-based automated storage systems (As a side note, Ocado is not included in 2019 as current Ocado Solutions revenues are fulfillment services rather than system sales. Although we do expect this to evolve). Furthermore, I found little in the way of domestic shuttle system production beyond the offering by Gangyu. In contrast, domestic production of traditional AS/RS is fairly widespread in China. A few of the most well-established providers include Kunming Logistics, Beijing Material Handling, and Beijing Technology Development.
Finally, the new innovative shuttle-robotics hybrid systems are what I found most fascinating. Exotec, Attabotics, Fabric, and Alert Innovation offer solutions that promise the combination of high throughput, flexibility/agility, scalability, and storage density. Although all unique in their own way, each system provides three-dimensional storage and retrieval with numerous load carriers operating simultaneously, along with free movement of the bots that removes constraints associated with lifts in more traditional shuttle systems.
AS/RS Market and Segment Insights
My research on the broader warehouse automation market has indicated that AS/RS in aggregate has been growing very fast. However, my research on the AS/RS market identified the degree to which the subcategories of the market and other segments such as regions and end-user industries are contributing to this growth. As you would expect, shuttle systems and cube-based automated storage systems are growing most rapidly. Furthermore, e-commerce fulfillment is the most pervasive factor propelling AS/RS market growth. Grocery and apparel are especially active product lines, while throughput, agility, and scalability are the broad-based capabilities that fulfillment operations are most often seeking. For more information on ARC’s AS/RS market research, contact you ARC Advisory Group account manager, or reach out to the author at email@example.com.
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