There has been a lot of recent talk about the impact of COVID-19 on warehouse automation as many operations have been disrupted as they try to implement social distancing measures and attract staff from an already competitive labour market.
But will COVID-19 really have the massive impact that is being mooted?
The Growth of eCommerce
Online volumes have surged during lockdown with all non-essential shops closed
Lockdown is a live experiment for how shopping habits may change in the long-term
Omnichannel retailers need to make efficiencies to offset costly online fulfilment
Depending on the type of solution, automation can take 6-24 months; from design to go-live
Labour Market Considerations
Economic forecasts suggest a downturn comparable to the great depression is going to hit globally
Job losses could drive down labour costs, making a return on investment less attractive
Businesses might also find capital less attainable, or funds diverted, in a time of great uncertainty
Warehouse automation will drive significant operational benefits although projects take time to go-live and they may be harder to realise in uncertain economic conditions. COVID-19 might not be the explicit cause of the increased automation touted, but will add to the market appetite for it